Three Sacramentans got back memories of their murdered father this week and faced his killer for the first time 17 years later.
When Jimmie Richardson was fatally shot in West Sacramento on Oct. 8, 2000, his family — by mistake or negligence — was never included in the trials of his two killers.
In 2003, a Yolo County jury convicted the two men — David Cree and Jesse Lampkin — of second degree murder and discharge of a firearm. They each received a sentence of 15 years-to-life in state prison.
Lampkin appealed and won, saying his Miranda rights had been violated. Upon retrial, a jury convicted him of manslaughter. He has since been released from prison.
The other man, however, is still in prison and has come before the Board of Parole a total of three times, most recently on Tuesday of this week.
"We always try to get the family members involved, not only because it's important for them, but it's important for the (Board of Parole) commissioners to hear from the family, the people involved," Yolo County chief deputy district attorney Jonathan Raven told ABC10 News.
But in a regrettable and now inexplicable omission early on, Richardson's family was never a part of the justice process, "which was really shameful that that didn't happen because they should've been part of the process," Raven said. "They should've been attending hearings, they should've been attending the trial, they should've been speaking out at the sentencing."
So this year, when Cree was up for his third parole hearing, Raven decided to fix that.
"I said, 'Maybe, maybe we can find some family members,'" he said, recalling his thoughts when he got assigned the case and realized no family members had ever been located.
In a matter of hours, his office found Keesha Richardson. She and her twin sister Tanisha Youngblood were 19 when their father was murdered. Their brother Kris Richardson was 18. It was on Sept. 8 they learned about their father's killer's upcoming parole hearing - and that they had been left out of court proceedings for years. Sept. 8 would have been Richardson's 69th birthday.
"It made me feel relieved, in a sense, to get more information than we'd ever heard before," Keesha Richardson said. "We have no idea how it could've been missed — and we live in Sacramento. We've never moved."
She described with fondness the father Richardson was when they were young.
"So many good memories," she said. "If you didn't like him, you just didn't know him. He was an awesome man."
The three siblings and their mother attended Tuesday's parole hearing.
"I was torn up," Youngblood recalled. "I couldn't even bring myself to just let the words out because, as I mentioned, I just felt every emotion that you can possibly think of."
Kris Richardson did address the two Board of Parole commissioners presiding over the hearing.
"It just allowed me to speak my mind and to try to keep (Cree) behind bars as long as possible," he said.
The commissioners denied Cree parole and set his next hearing for 2020, which the three siblings they will most certainly be attending.
"It's truly impacted us in that the decision that they made...to deny the parole was the best thing," Keesha Richardson said, adding that Cree "is exactly where he needs to be."
Unbeknownst to the family, Raven had retrieved from the evidence room of the West Sacramento Police Department items Richardson had on him the night he was killed.
"There was a couple of wallets," Keesha Richardson said, lovingly holding her father's belongings in her hands. "One thing that he used to always tell us is, 'Keep everything,' so to find all of this stuff in his wallet, it was just super funny."
"It brought back a lot of memories," Kris Richardson said, describing a buffalo nickel from his children that, he discovered, his father continued to carry around with him.
"It means so much to me to see how much it meant to them, to be able to hold his wallet, to be able to hold his paperwork, to be able to hold his change purse," Raven said. "It was really moving for me. Moving and emotional."
"Even though nothing can take away the pain, this is almost like we still have a piece of our father," Keesha Richardson said. "He's not just on an obituary to us anymore."
She showed ABC10 the program from Richardson's funeral. The picture on the front showed a young man in a U.S. military uniform with a bright, beaming smile.
Now the siblings are reliving memories that have been buried for years.
"What used to be behind is now actually in front of us again, so it's been difficult," Keesha Richardson said.
Richardson was no longer a regular part of his children's lives when he died in 2000. Still, the siblings say, that's no excuse for authorities to have failed to contact them following the murder.
"We could've had closure on this 17 years ago, but here we are having to relive this story all over again because the justice system let us down," Tanisha Youngblood said. "I, personally, don't want it to happen to anyone else."
For more information on Richardson's murder and the ensuing parole hearings, visit the Yolo County District Attorney's website HERE.
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