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Fireman gets ten years for shooting taxi driver to death

PHILIPSBURG--Airport fireman Alcedro Alfredo Ash (35) was sentenced Wednesday to ten years for the manslaughter of Riley “China” Richardson. The 37-year-old taxi driver was killed by gunshots on Pear Road in South Reward on May 21.

Ash, who was acquitted of murder, was also ordered to pay US $17,052 in damages to the victim’s family. The Prosecutor’s Office had found murder proven, for which it had called for a 14-year prison sentence during the September 16 hearing.

Prosecutor Karola van Nie had based her conclusion on the fact that after an initial confrontation with the victim, the suspect had entered his house to pick up an armed firearm, after which he went out again and immediately approached the victim. He then aimed his gun at the victim and shot him down instantaneously. No threats were made or warning shot were fired first.

The Prosecutor also did not find it proven that the defendant had panicked or had been highly emotional during the incident, she said.

The two men had a long-standing feud. The May 21 incident was the final confrontation in a long row. Ash has stated that the whole incident had transpired in only a few minutes. He said he had stepped outside to take a bag from his car and had taken the weapon “just in case things would get out of hand” and “just to scare him off.”

He said he fired the gun when the defendant came at him in a menacing way with something “sharp” in his hand, which, according to the defendant, could have been a pair of scissors. A witness of the incident, however, did not mention any scissors or that the victim had threatened Ash in any way. Ambulance personnel also did not find any scissors at the scene.

The Court dismissed self-defence pleadings, but did not find premeditation proven. However, manslaughter was considered proven, because the defendant had deliberately fired several gunshots at his victim.

Ash confessed to the shooting and a witness had seen Ash “firing three shots at the victim’s chest and twice on the ground.”

The Judge held it against the fireman of profession that he had killed an unarmed man and that he should have realised that the possession of a firearm is “undesirable and altogether wrong.”

In sentencing, the Court took into account that the defendant had had no previous run-ins with the law, was an otherwise good housefather, and had no personality disorders.

The victim’s family, represented in Court by the victim’s father, had filed for damages to the total amount of $29,652, including funeral cost, children school fee support and immaterial damages.

As she considered only the funeral cost sufficiently substantiated, the Prosecutor recommended the Court to only award damages to the tune of $17,052. As this claim was unsuccessfully contested, the Judge decided to award damages according to the Prosecutor’s calculations.

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