Columbia man is charged in 2 killings

Police say he bragged about slaying store clerk

May 24, 2007|By Melissa Harris and John-John Williams IV | Melissa Harris and John-John Williams IV,sun reporters

When police found a teenager fatally shot inside a Columbia townhouse this week, they immediately started looking for the townhouse's resident, who had a lengthy criminal record.

As detectives investigated the killing, they found people who said Charles David Richardson IV, 23, had bragged about killing a clerk at a 7-Eleven store across the street late last month, according to court records.

Yesterday, police announced that they had charged Richardson, known as "Face," in two of Howard County's three killings this year. Police arrested him Tuesday during a traffic stop in Ellicott City.

The 19-year-old victim, Trae D. Allen, was found in Richardson's townhouse in the 5200 block of Brook Way.

Richardson was one of four men charged last year in an armed robbery of the same 7-Eleven store where Alevtina Zhilina was killed April 26. Howard County prosecutors dropped all eight charges in that case as well as seven others in two separate cases against Richardson in the past two years. Marijuana possession and trespassing charges are still pending against him in Howard County.

In the most recent incident at the 7-Eleven, a witness watched a man struggling with Zhilina just inside the door of the store, heard a loud "pop" and then watched her fall to the floor.

While investigating Allen's death, detectives interviewed two people who reported hearing Richardson admit to killing Zhilina. According to court records, one heard Richardson say, "If the [woman] would have just given me the money, I wouldn't have had to pop her."

Police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said that nothing was taken in the botched robbery.

Allen was found on the first floor of Richardson's townhouse about 5:30 p.m. Monday with several gunshot wounds to his head. Allen was a close friend of William Arin Richardson, 22, Charles Richardson's younger brother, according to William Richardson.

In an interview yesterday, William Richardson said that Allen was "at the wrong place at the wrong time."

Allen's family lives in a townhouse in the same block as Charles Richardson in The Berkshires, a large residential complex formerly known as the Hannibal Grove apartments at Route 175 and Columbia Road. The 7-Eleven is across the street from the entrance to the complex on Columbia Road.

A group of people had been hanging out at Richardson's townhouse the night before, according to police.

William Richardson said that he warned Allen, who was in town from Atlanta visiting his family, that if he was going to hang out at the Richardsons' "crib" that he needed to bring "his jump," a pistol.

William Richardson said that he stayed away from the Sunday night gathering because some of the attendees had been robbing "mass-quantity drug dealers," whom he called "connects," and said that he was worried that they would come back for revenge.

"I told Trae that if he was going to go over there, he needed to be cautious," William Richardson said. "There was a whole lot of beef going on."

William Richardson said that the younger Allen was "like a brother" to him. The two first met while attending Fairmount High School in Prince George's County.

The deaths of Zhilina and Allen were the second and third homicides in the county this year. In 2006, Howard County recorded a total of four homicides.

"We believe we have one person responsible for two heinous crimes in less than a month," Llewellyn said. "In this area, one person can have a huge impact on the overall crime rate."

In the past year, Charles Richardson has been charged with attempted second-degree murder, armed robbery, first-degree assault, marijuana possession and other crimes in Howard County.

Prosecutors dropped the charges in the most serious cases. In a July 2006 robbery at the 7-Eleven, three suspects jumped the counter and stole cigarettes, cigars and $90, and another suspect stole candy, according to store owner Kathy Wragg.

"They were wearing gloves and masks," Wragg said.

Yesterday Howard County State's Attorney Timothy J. McCrone said that his office declined to prosecute the case because there was "no confession," "no forensic evidence" and witnesses could not identify the masked suspects.

However, according to court records, one of the four suspects, a juvenile, was cooperating with police and had named the other assailants. Police also obtained a search warrant for the Richardson townhouse and found distinctive clothes and a replica handgun that matched ones seen in a surveillance video of the 7-Eleven robbery.

Earlier this year, Charles Richardson was charged with attempted second-degree murder in a stabbing at a bus stop near The Mall in Columbia.

The victim in the stabbing, DeSean Antonio Jones, 18, was "intentionally uncooperative" with police and prosecutors, and refused to identify his assailant or testify in court, McCrone said.

During an interview with police after being arrested for marijuana possession at the mall, Richardson confessed to stabbing Jones twice, missing his heart by an inch, according to court records.

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