Oddee online - Herald-Tribune online - Janet Reno -
The 77-year-old Florida man recently returned to his hometown of Arcadia, where in 1967 he was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for the poisoning deaths of his seven children.
He spent 21 years locked up for the heinous crime – his children died from lunches laced with pesticide – after being framed by authorities and alleged by prosecutors to have killed his young for insurance money.
Years later, the woman who had been babysitting Richardson’s children while he and his wife were away working confessed to the crime, so Richardson was freed from prison. Oddee online report ‘10 of the Worst Wrongful Imprisonment Cases’
Seven children poisoned by insecticide.
Their father charged with murder.
A white sheriff and a white prosecutor who, the story goes, framed a poor black fruit picker and brought shame to this town.
All those lawyers making a show at the trial and all those reporters asking questions about Arcadia that no one wanted to answer.
Nobody talks much about James Joseph Richardson or those seven dead children anymore.
That was 40 years ago, and just about anybody who had anything to do with it has died or moved on.
But suspicion lingers about Richardson, even after it was proven that the murder case against him was built on lies. Some still wonder whether it was Richardson who spiked the children’s lunch in October 1967 and finessed the legal system to avoid the punishment he deserved.
And now, the case that underscored the upheaval of the civil rights era in this small town is back in court.
Richardson is the first person to apply for a settlement under a new Florida law that awards the wrongly convicted.
Jailed for more than two decades, he stands to gain more than $1 million – $50,000 for every year he spent in prison.
Opposing him, just as they did in 1967 and 1989, when he was set free, are prosecutors with the State Attorney’s Office. They are pointing to a provision in the new law that says the wrongly convicted must prove their own innocence to receive a payment.
It is nearly an impossible standard, especially in a case this old. Evidence was destroyed years ago and most of the witnesses are now dead.
Richardson’s attorney, Robert Barrar Jr., wonders: ‘How do you prove a negative? How do you prove that something didn’t happen?’
You can start with the baby sitter. Herald-Tribune article 8 March 2009, ‘Wrongly convicted man’s murder case raises questions’
This assigned state attorney has concluded that James Richardson did not receive a fair trial. That James Richardson did not receive justice at his trial. Janet Reno, state attorney at appeal hearing