Jury: Donovan Richardson to serve life in prison, no death penalty

RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) -- On Wednesday, Donovan Richardson was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of two men in 2014 rather than receive the death penalty.

Richardson was convicted last week of the murder of 78-year-old Arthur Brown.

"When you leave this room today, you're going to be taken back to your jail cell," Judge Graham Shirley told Richardson. "Your belongings are going to be cleared out and you're going to be taken to Central Prison. And when you lay your head to rest tonight, that door is going to close and that lock is going to sound. You have a life expectancy of 52.35 years so I want you to know that for the next 27.5 million minutes of your life, that is where you are going to remain."

Brown was shot to death in his home near Fuquay-Varina during a burglary in the summer of 2014.

Prosecutors said Richardson also supplied the gun that killed Brown's roommate, 66-year-old David McKoy.

Although the families declined to talk to reporters after the sentencing, one victim's son has said in the past that he wanted his father's killer to die.

"This was a case that we felt strongly under the law, under the facts of the case, it was appropriate to go to a jury on that issue," Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said. "And we respect the jury's decision."

On Tuesday, in closing arguments of the sentencing phase of Richardson's trial, prosecutors tried to persuade jurors to sentence Richardson to death.

Prosecutor Matt Lively recounted some of the crime, saying about the shooting of Brown, "He shoots him three times - once in the hand and twice in the chest, through and through, through the headboard of his bed. Arthur Brown was shot to death in his own bed."

Defense attorney Rick Gammon told jurors that sparing Richardson and sentencing him to life without parole would not be showing mercy.

"The final chapters of his life up until his final breath will be written from a jail cell. And now I ask you, and some would argue, where is the mercy in that?" Gammon asked.

A Wake County jury hasn't handed down a capital punishment sentence in more than a decade.

Since that 2007 death penalty verdict, eight people were convicted of murder in capital cases in Wake County but jurors rejected the death penalty in all of those cases opting instead for life in prison without parole.

If Richardson is spared his would be the ninth case in a row tried without a death sentence.

So Tuesday, a prosecutor reminded jurors that they are the conscience of the people of Wake County.

"You will be deciding as 12 jurors from this county what the conscious of this community is, what is significant, what is of importance, what is weight, what is gravity," Howard Cummings told the jurors.

The 12 men and women deliberated about 90 minutes before calling it a day.

No one has been put to death in North Carolina since 2006.
Copyright © 2020 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.