Accused double murderer testifies: ‘I panicked’

Robert Richardson Jr. admits he pulled the trigger, but claims shooting was self-defense

Robert Richardson Jr. testifying in court on Oct. 16, 2017 answers a question asked by his criminal defense attorney, Russell S. Barnett III. (KOIN)
Robert Richardson Jr. testifying in court on Oct. 16, 2017 answers a question asked by his criminal defense attorney, Russell S. Barnett III. (Brent Weisberg/KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – His day in court finally came Monday as 23-year-old Robert Richardson Jr. stood before a jury, took an oath and replayed what happened on the night he killed two men in Northeast Portland.

There is no dispute on who pulled the trigger on Oct. 2, 2015 at the Hourglass Pub. Richardson placed himself at the bar. He told the jury he went to the bar, with a gun, and then admitted to shooting Anthony Howard, Eric Takemoto and Joshua Wiebe. He claims the shooting was self-defense.

Multiple rounds struck Howard and Takemoto. Both died at the scene. Wiebe survived and was recently called as a witness for the state to testify about being shot in the leg.

Richardson told the jury he went to the Hourglass Pub that night to have a belated birthday party. He went to the bar by himself. His birthday is September 30. Prior to his arrest, Richardson lived near the bar. He told the jury that he knew someone working there and said it was his hope that she would be the one to serve him his first official drink as an adult.

: Criminal defense attorney Russell S. Barnett III looks at his client, Robert Richardson Jr., who is on trial for killing two men and wounding a third. (KOIN)

“I was in a good mood,” he told the jury about how he was feeling when he showed up at the bar.

After settling in, Richardson started playing pool with Wiebe. It was the first time the two men had ever met. Both men have now testified the 3 games of pool that they played were cordial. There was nothing mean-spirited before, during or after the games.

“He was a cool dude,” Richardson said of Wiebe.

“Did you have any conflict,” criminal defense attorney Russell S. Barnett III asked his client.

“No, sir,” Richardson replied.

“No, sir” is how Richardson would answer many of Barnett’s questions about whether he ever got aggressive with anyone at the bar, or if anyone there made it known that they had a problem with Richardson.

After playing pool with Wiebe, Richardson would play a couple rounds with an older man who was known to be an ace at pool. The two had never met prior.

“We’re just having a cool conversation,” Richardson said as Barnett showed a compilation of videos taken from the bar’s surveillance video system that showed his client. “Everything was cool. I never had any problems.”

Barnett pressed his client. He wanted to know if losing to the older man caused Richardson to become upset.

“Nah. It was more of a learning experience,” Richardson said.

Multnomah County senior deputy district attorney Glen Banfield shown in court on Oct. 16, 2017 asking Robert Richardson Jr. questions about killing two men. (KOIN)
Multnomah County senior deputy district attorney Glen Banfield shown in court on Oct. 16, 2017 asking Robert Richardson Jr. questions about killing two men. (KOIN)

The time at the pool table would end. When it did, Richardson estimated that he had probably consumed 2 beers and a shot over 3-4 hours.

Eventually, he went out to the bar’s smoking area. The smoking area is in the bar’s back parking lot. There’s a covered area and a place for people to sit.

“I was in a good mood,” Richardson recalled.

The older man with whom Richardson had played pool with earlier left the bar with his wife. The two men hugged briefly and Richardson asked the man if he was OK to drive.

Richardson then found himself in the parking lot with several other people including Howard and Takemoto. There was a confrontation between Takemoto and Richardson. Even with Richardson’s testimony – what the argument was about – and who started it remains cloudy.

Richardson claims that during the fight with Takemoto, Howard “just kind of moved in toward me.”

“He was acting kind of strange,” Richardson said. “He asked me, ‘do you have a f-cking problem?'”

“I said, ‘Nah, everything is cool.’”

Richardson claims that he moved backwards – and away from the aggression – but Howard kept advancing.

“He’s real big…so I was intimidated,” Richardson said.

Barnett asked his client why he didn’t pull the gun sooner. Richardson said because he was still trying to create space.

“I was confused as to why they were acting so aggressive with me,” he said.

Criminal defense attorney Russell S. Barnett III (left) and Robert Richardson Jr. (right) watch video in court on Oct. 16, 2017. (Brent Weisberg/KOIN)
Criminal defense attorney Russell S. Barnett III (left) and Robert Richardson Jr. (right) watch video in court on Oct. 16, 2017. (Brent Weisberg/KOIN)

Richardson said as things escalated, he tried getting back into the bar where he felt he would be safer.

“That’s when this real big dude, Mr. Howard, pushed me…really hard…so I kind of fly back…I’m just trying to get away from all these people starting to come at me from the bar,” he said.

Richardson testified that he saw a crowd coming out of the bar.

“I felt like I was surrounded….I panicked…I felt like I was surrounded and everyone was closing in on me,” he said.

Richardson claims he heard someone yell out that he was about to get “knocked the f-ck out.”

“Do you remember pulling your gun,” Barnett asked?

“No, sir. I do not.”

“Do you remember getting hit,” Barnett asked?

“Yes.”

“Did it hurt?”

“Yes it did,” Richardson replied.

“Did you have any plans to use your gun,” Barnett asked.

“No, sir.”

Robert Richardson shown on video at the Hourglass Pub on Oct. 2, 2015 playing a game of pool. (KOIN)
Robert Richardson Jr. shown on video at the Hourglass Pub on Oct. 2, 2015 playing a game of pool. (KOIN)

The video shows a series of flashes.

Richardson fired all 12 rounds.

Howard goes down. Takemoto falls to the ground by the bar’s side door and Wiebe gets inside the bar where he would be found by his girlfriend.

Richardson runs from the bar and is captured about 6 minutes after the first shot rang out. By the time he was arrested, he ditched the gun, something he readily admits doing. The firearm was eventually recovered.

Richardson left so quickly after the shooting he claims he never looked back to see if his bullets hit anybody or anything. He also claimed that no one from Portland police told him he was being held on allegations of aggravated murder, however, he recalled seeing “agg murder” on an officer’s computer screen inside a police car.

During cross examination, Multnomah County senior deputy district attorney Glen Banfield got Richardson to admit that the gun he took to the bar on Oct. 2, 2015 was not lawfully his.

“You took it without permission,” Banfield asked.

“Yes,” Richardson said.

“You intentionally took it without permission.”

“Yes.”

Banfield went over a list of people inside the bar and asked if Richardson saw any of them with a weapon that night.

“Did you see Eric Takemoto with a weapon….Did you see Anthony Howard with a weapon…,” Banfield asked.

“No, sir…I did not,” Richardson replied respectively.

“What did it feel like when you pulled the trigger 12 different times,” Banfield asked.

“I don’t remember,” he said. “It was very traumatic situation.”

“Were you trying to kill anybody,” Barnett asked of his client after the state finished its cross examination?

“I wasn’t trying to kill anybody,” Richardson said.

“What were you feeling?”

“I felt like I had been attacked by multiple people…I felt like they kept coming at me.”

On Tuesday, the defense team will call its final witness. The state will be given an opportunity to call any final witnesses for rebuttal. There will be closing arguments and then the jury will get the case. The trial had been scheduled to go through mid-November but appears to be moving faster than expected.