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Before sentenced to death, Home Depot killer shouts: ‘I’m innocent’

By LARRY WELBORN / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Published: Nov. 28, 2011 Updated: Aug. 21, 2013 1:17 p.m.

SANTA ANA – An ex-convict blurted “I didn’t kill anybody, I’m innocent” Monday moments before he was sentenced to death for the special circumstances murder of the manager of a Home Depot during a botched robbery in 2007.

Jason Russell Richardson, 40, was convicted in April 2010 of murdering Tom Egan during a midmorning robbery Feb. 9, 2007. Egan, the night manager, was trying to protect his employees when he was shot in the stomach.

On Monday, Richardson sat surrounded by sheriffs deputies as he interrupted a tearful and eloquent victim-impact statement from A.J. Egan, the victim’s widow, and shouted, “I didn’t kill her husband … I didn’t do it.”

When Superior Court Judge William Froeberg threatened to remove him from the courtroom, Richardson responded, “I’m done.”

A.J. Egan ignored the killer as she read her statement. Read her full remarks here.

Richardson, she said, “permanently tore my life apart, robbed me of my world, stripped me of my happiness, my hopes, my dreams when he murdered my husband Tom.

Two prior juries deadlocked on whether to recommend that Richardson receive the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole. But a third jury voted unanimously last month that Richardson deserves the maximum punishment, in part because of his violent past and because of the impact the murder had on Egan’s family, especially A.J. Egan and their young twin daughters.

Froeberg concurred with that recommendation on Monday, calling “a cancer on society…who has little or no regard for any life other than his own. The judge ordered Richardson to be transported San Quentin Prison to await his execution – a legal process that could take years.

No condemned killer has been put to death in California since 2007 as attorneys argue whether lethal injection as a method of putting someone to death should be considered cruel and unusual punishment.

Richardson will join 58 other Orange County killers on death row, some of whom have been appealing their death sentences for as long as 30 years. He is entitled to an automatic appeal.

Deputy District Attorney Cameron Talley said Monday that Richardson, who has prior convictions for rape, grand theft and domestic abuse, has earned the death penalty.

“He didn’t even have the decency to let his victim’s widow finish her victim-impact statement,” Talley said later. “He’s an evil man…If he could die twice, I’d try him again.”

Defense attorneys George Peters and Richard Schwartzberg contended that Richardson was a drug addict who was the product of a horrible, violence-filled childhood where he was raised by an alcoholic grandmother and a drug-addicted mother who had a series of violent boyfriends and connections to the Hell’s Angels.

Richardson wore a painter’s suit as a disguise when he walked into The Home Depot at the Tustin Marketplace carrying a gun and demanding money from the safe. Witnesses testified that Egan tried to protect his employees by getting between them and the gunman and by trying to dissuade Richardson from going ahead with the robbery.

Egan followed Richardson up to a cashier and was talking with him when Richardson shot him at close range in the stomach.

A store surveillance camera captured Egan crumpling to the ground, and Richardson stepping over his body after he grabbed about $500 from the cash register.

Egan died two hours later from massive internal bleeding. He was a retired U.S. Marine sergeant.

Richardson was linked to the crime scene when his DNA was found on a dirty sock carrying ammunition that he accidentally dropped inside the store.

“Tom was not just any father – he was the most loving and attentive father, a father that cared for them and played with them. He adored them and loved them more than anything. Our daughters were only three years old when Jason Richardson killed their father, so they will never truly know or remember their father, they will never know how great he was, not only as a father, but as a person.

“They will only remember him through the eyes and memories of all of us who loved him so dearly, some pictures, and some videos, but no real independent recollection, only memories we create for them. They will never have a father to love them, hold them, play with them, for them to look up to, to learn from, to protect them, and to support and guide them.

“What breaks my heart is my girls are constantly reminded of their loss each and every day, whether it be at school when they watch the other kids kiss their dads good-bye, on Father’s Day, at their soccer games, or playing at the park. My girls are sad, frustrated, and angry.

“How do you sit your little girls down and explain to them that their daddy is gone because this man decided money was more important than their daddy? I have no real answer or remedy to help soothe their pain, my only answer can be is that there are bad people in this world that do bad things.

“Our daughters don’t know how to deal with these emotions and the reality is, no amount of counseling or consoling takes away the pain and the empty void for any of us. When I see my girls yearn for that male attention, it’s a constant reminder of the loss we’ve suffered. And no matter how hard I try to be everything to them, the realization is, I can’t.

“Your Honor, this conviction has given me and my family some peace. I want to thank Mr. Talley for fighting for Tom and doing everything in his power to get justice for Tom, and for helping me through this journey when I wasn’t sure I could continue until the end.

“It was hard coming into court each day seeing the man who murdered my husband, Jason Richardson, sitting there with nothing but his lack of remorse and pathetic, poor-me demeanor.

“Even though he has a right to a defense, it was still disheartening to hear only excuses for his murderous behavior, instead of remorse and accountability.

“I hoped and prayed every day that justice would be served and there would be a time when I no longer would have to worry about this man ever knowing what it would be like to be free again.

“It’s been a long and emotional road, and there were times and days when I wasn’t sure if I could do this, but with the love, help, and support of my family, friends, and so many people along the way, we made it to the end.

“I have a renewed faith in our justice system and I, again, want to thank all involved in securing the fair and just verdict, and bring closure to this area for my daughters and I.”

Contact the writer: lwelborn@ocregister.com or 714-834-3784

Originally posted: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/richardson-328969-egan-death.html

Article Copy: Before sentenced to death, Home Depot killer shouts- ‘I’m innocent’