Friday, July 3, 2009

Cops: Ex-boyfriend murdered mother of his child

Friday, July 3, 2009

By Trentonian Staff

TRENTON — City homicide detectives yesterday charged Lamont Terrel Richardson, the 21-year-old ex-boyfriend of slain Ashle McKinney, with her brutal strangulation murder Sunday on Mellon Street.

Richardson was arrested quietly Wednesday on an old failure-to-appear warrant, police said. Detectives last night announced that the ex-con had been charged with her murder after a day of grilling him and building evidence in the case. Hers was the city’s fourth confirmed domestic violence homicide this year.

Detective Edgar Rios developed the probable cause needed to pin charges on Richardson, announced Capt. Joseph Juniak, head of the Criminal Investigation Bureau, and Detective Sgt. Pedro Medina.

Richardson was charged with murder, two weapons charges and tampering with evidence, and held on $1 million bail last night.

“On behalf of the Trenton Police Department our condolences goes to the McKinney family. The life of their loved one cannot be replaced, but we hope that our hard work has given them some closure. Our prayers are with them,” said Capt. Juniak, who met with the McKinney family last night.

Ashle, 23, a page at the Trenton Free Public Library’s East Trenton branch, was found clad only in her underclothes Sunday. Her 8-month-old daughter Alana “Lady Bug” Richardson, who had been sired by Richardson, was alive elsewhere in the apartment at Trenton’s Wilson-Haverstick housing project.

McKinney’s cousin, Shonte Ford, said the family immediately knew what had happened. “We told the cops on the first day the name of the guy we suspect,’’ Ford told The Trentonian.

The case was labeled by Police Director Irv Bradley as one more sad domestic violence homicide. Ashle McKinney joins city residents Lisa Glennon, 38; Denise Leonard, 46, and Yerika Hernandez, 27, on the list of women allegedly killed by current or ex-boyfriends, police said.

Richardson was in and out of the Mercer County Correction Center three times in 2008, serving from Feb. 5 to Feb. 25 on gun charges, from March 3 to June 23 on gun possession and drug charges, and from July 8 through Dec. 8 for burglary and arson, according to County Spokesman Pete Daly.

And Ashle’s family alleges that not only did he beat and abuse her, but he firebombed her apartment last year.

The Trentonian, quoting a police source, reported Wednesday that Tiffany’s boyfriend had returned home from prison recently after doing a stretch behind bars for torching a former girlfriend’s house.

“That was actually Ashle’s house that he firebombed,” said Tiffany Leven, 25, Ashle’s cousin, on Wednesday. “That was Ashle that he stalked when he came home from jail.”

Tiffany said Ashle lived at 4 Eisenhower Apt. 1-B when it was firebombed in July 2008.

Ashle was pregnant with “Lady Bug” at the time; she and her other daughter, 7-year-old, Zhana McKinney, were unharmed. Charges were filed and Lamont Richardson was arrested, Leven said.

“Ashle had gone to court and everything,” said Leven.

But Leven said Richardson’s family threatened Ashle and her kids, and she dropped the firebombing charges against him. Ty’sha Ford said Richardson got out because McKinney had told authorities she was too afraid of him and his family to testify against him.

“They (police) held him, but (after awhile) they said they couldn’t keep him no longer, because they had no evidence,” Leven said.

Police didn’t deal with that aspect of the case in the announcement last night. Later it was explained that the prosecutor’s office downgraded the burglary/arson charges to criminal mischief because of evidence problems.

Now family members realize sadly that had Ashle McKinney not “dropped the charges,” Richardson might have gone to jail and not been been on the loose last Sunday. And Ashle may be alive today.

“That’s what everybody’s saying, ‘It cost her her life,’” Tiffany Leven said.

Until Richardson was picked up Wednesday, he had repeatedly approached McKinney, in violation of restraining orders, and broke into the new quarters she was put in after her apartment was gutted by fire and she lost everything she owned, family members said.

Ford also said Richardson met with the 8-month-old baby daughter he sired with McKinney on Wednesday afternoon as scheduled under the supervision of state social workers but apparently was not picked up by police then.

A blanket of sadness has hovered over the once happy family.

In an e-mail, Ford said the victim “was a good loving person, and loved her kids til death. The last time I seen Ashle alive was on a Friday, June 24, 2009, during Family Night at my house. We had so much fun, and all you saw was laughter and the life of Ashle.’’

The Richardson family could not be reached to comment on this story.

Ashle’s funeral is tentatively scheduled for next Monday at Campbell’s Funeral Home.

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