Jury: Robert Richardson guilty of double murder

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

Robert Richardson Jr. stands as Judge Tom Ryan reads the verdict. His criminal defense attorneys, Russell S. Barnett III (left) and Christopher E. Burris (right) stand next to their client on Oct. 19, 2017. (Brent Weisberg/KOIN)
Robert Richardson Jr. stands as Judge Tom Ryan reads the verdict. His criminal defense attorneys, Russell S. Barnett III (left) and Christopher E. Burris (right) stand next to their client on Oct. 19, 2017. (Brent Weisberg/KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – It took a jury less than 24 hours to convict 23-year-old Robert Richardson Jr. for the aggravated murders of Anthony Howard and Eric Takemoto.

The two men were gunned down at the Hour Glass Pub on October 2, 2015 in Northeast Portland in a storm of 12 rapidly fired bullets.

A third man, Joshua Wiebe, was struck in the leg and survived the shooting. Wiebe, along with family and friends of Howard and Takemoto crowded a downtown Portland courtroom Thursday afternoon as Judge Tom Ryan read the jury’s unanimous verdict.

In convicting Richardson of two counts of aggravated murder, the jury rejected his self-defense claim.

Here’s a breakdown of how the jury voted on each of the 10 charges that Richardson faced.

  • Count 1 – Aggravated murder with a firearm – GUILTY
  • Count 2 – Aggravated murder with a firearm – GUILTY
  • Count 3 – Attempted aggravated murder with a firearm – GUILTY
  • Count 4 – Attempted aggravated murder with a firearm – GUILTY
  • Count 5 – Attempted aggravated murder with a firearm – GUILTY
  • Count 6 – Attempted aggravated murder with a firearm – GUILTY
  • Count 7 – First-degree assault – GUILTY
  • Count 8 – Second-degree assault – GUILTY
  • Count 9 – Second-degree assault – GUILTY
  • Count 10 – Unlawful use of a weapon – GUILTY

The sentencing phase of the trial will start on Oct. 30. The jury must now decide if Richardson should be given the death penalty, a true life in prison, which means he could never be released, or life in prison without the possibility to apply for parole until after serving a minimum of 30 years.

Robert Richardson Jr. was found guilty of aggravated murder in Portland, October 19, 2017 (Brent Weisberg/KOIN)
Robert Richardson Jr. was found guilty of aggravated murder in Portland on October 19, 2017 (Brent Weisberg/KOIN)

Richardson testified that he was protecting himself from what he believed was a threat. The defense team claimed that Takemoto started a fight with Richardson while the two were outside in the bar’s back parking lot, which also serves as a smoking area.

Richardson testified that after being punched by Takemoto, he was then pushed aggressively by Howard. After the push, Richardson claims he saw a group of people surrounding him.

According to prosecutors – Howard was the “peacemaker.” He was attempting to separate Takemoto and Richardson. Senior deputy district attorney Glen Banfield told the jury earlier in the trial that Howard was moving towards Richardson with “his hands up and out.”

The other prosecutor on the case, senior deputy district attorney Nathan Vasquez told the jury during closing arguments that there was never a self-defense claim to be made because Richardson had always been the aggressor.

Video from the bar shows Richardson reaching into his waistband and pulling out his gun. He is seen shooting Howard at close range and then shooting towards Takemoto. Both men were struck by multiple bullets and died at the scene.

Multiple witnesses testified that Richardson was the only person being aggressive, and that he was the only person armed.

Howard and Takemoto were at the Hour Glass Pub to celebrate the birthday of several of their friends. Richardson was already at the bar when they arrived. He told the jury he also went to the bar to celebrate his 21st birthday, which was two days earlier.

Richardson spent about 2.5 hours playing pool inside the bar. Surveillance video from the bar shows him playing three games of pool with Wiebe.

Wiebe was shot in the leg when Richardson unloaded his .357 caliber Sig Sauer handgun. He testified that he still has physical and emotional pain from the incident.

About six minutes after the shooting, police took Richardson into custody several blocks away from the bar. He testified he ran from the scene and got rid of the gun on purpose. It was later recovered during a K-9 article search.

The four counts of attempted aggravated murder were for the four people Richardson shot at after he killed Takemoto and Howard.

After the verdict was read, family and friends of Howard and Takemoto embraced one another, the detectives on the case and the prosecutors. Richardson’s family and friends left the courtroom quickly. Many had their heads lowered and cried as the verdict was read. Richardson stood and showed no observable reaction.

The entire trial process, including jury selection, was overseen by Multnomah County Judge Karin J. Immergut. She could not be available for the reading of the verdict so it was presided over by Multnomah County Judge Tom Ryan.

Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Karin J. Immergut reviews jury instructions in the aggravated murder trial of Robert Richardson Jr., October 17, 2017 (KOIN/Brent Weisberg)
Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Karin J. Immergut reviews jury instructions in the aggravated murder trial of Robert Richardson Jr., October 17, 2017 (KOIN/Brent Weisberg)