Protesters call for release of convicted murderer in Greenville 2009 double homicide
PITT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - “Free James Richardson” was one of many chants heard outside of the Pitt County Courthouse on Saturday.
In 2009, Andrew Kirby and Landon Blackley were shot and killed during a drive-by shooting outside of a Greenville bar called The Other Place.
Richardson, who was at the club earlier that evening, left following an argument. Prosecutors charged him with the murders.
Following the shooting, Greenville City Council adopted a 500-foot separation ordinance for new bars and clubs. Later this year, council will consider lifting the rule.
When WITN reached out to the District Attorney’s office for comment, J.B. Askins said, “The D.A.’s office has no comment on the matter. It is a pending legal matter. Any response that we have will be included in the legal filings that we submit in the case. Beyond that, we can’t comment on any of the claims by Mr. Richardson or his council. The state bar rules of professional conduct prohibit us from commenting on the substantive parts of pending cases. Therefore we cannot address in a public forum, claims, issues, and concerns raised by Richardson or his council.”
Although it has been almost a decade and a half, Richardson’s supporters believe that he received an unjust trial.
Greenville resident Dedan Waciuri was a teenager when the shooting happened, and he said knowing Richardson’s impact is what makes the sentencing even more difficult.
“I think losing James Richardson in the capacity that we had him in the community did play a detrimental role to a lot of the things that we see today,” Waciuri said. “Who knows what could have been if James was on the outside still speaking positivity for a lot of the youth in Greenville, North Carolina that actually looked up to him as a mentor.”
Despite the case being a pending legal matter, Richardson is still behind bars.
Supporter Kerywin Pittman, who was formerly incarcerated himself, says days like Sunday give Richardson and other inmates hope.
“To be clear days like this are huge for James Richardson in an effort to keep him strong and kind of embedded in this fight for his freedom,” Pittman said. “Which we know was taken from him unjustly. So days like this will mean the world to James Richardson but also other wrongfully incarnated individuals.”
Richard Taylor said putting together rallies allows your voice to be heard.
“Sometimes I think a lot of people are afraid to upset the powers that be,” Taylor said. “The natural order of things and don’t really think that it’ll make a difference.”
Although Richardson has been in prison for thirteen years, his legal team, family, and friends said that they will not stop the fight until they believe justice is served.
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