Ga. inmate avoids death for prison murder

A jury hearing the case could not reach a unanimous verdict


By Bill Rankin
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A federal prisoner who killed his cellmate because he was a child molester was spared the death penalty Thursday when a jury hearing the case could not reach a unanimous verdict.

After deliberating two days, a federal jury in Atlanta could not arrive at a verdict as to whether Brian Richardson should live or die. Without unanimity on death, the sentence of life without the possibility of being released is automatic in federal court.

The jury had convicted Richardson of murdering 60-year-old Steven Obara in July 2007 by stabbing him nine times and then strangling him at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta. Richardson said he killed Obara because Obara was serving time for child molestation.

Richardson, 48, was serving a 65-year sentence for armed robberies. For that reason, Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill McKinnon told jurors in closing arguments, another life sentence would be "simply no punishment."

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