PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For the past two years, Robert Richardson Jr. has wanted to apologize to the families of Eric Takemoto and Anthony Howard.
He shot and killed the two men on Oct. 2, 2015 at the Hour Glass Pub in Northeast Portland.
Earlier this month, a Multnomah County jury unanimously rejected Richardson’s self-defense claims and convicted him of aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder, among other charges.
Richardson couldn’t make that apology when he first wanted, citing his criminal defense attorneys’ advice. He got the chance on Tuesday when he was formally sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of ever being released.
“I feel like it was unfortunate all the way around,” Richardson said.
He didn’t prepare any notes. He told the court he wanted to listen as the families of Takemoto and Howard spoke.
“Mr. Richardson, I don’t think you could have done this unless the devil was inside of you,” Cynthia Sims, Howard’s mother said.
As Richardson’s criminal defense attorney spoke with the judge about courtroom procedures during sentencing hearings, Richardson said, “no — let her speak, let her speak. It’s okay.”
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t cry,” she continued.
Sims attended every day of trial and said the pain and agony of losing her son, and one of his closest friends, is “unbearable and overwhelming.”
Howard was remembered by his mother as an incredibly loving and caring human being who found the best in everyone he met.
“He never wanted to let anyone down,” Sims said, as she held onto a tissue and notes.
Howard was a gifted musician. He wrote lyrics and Sims smiled as she recalled how many music tapes she has.
But the pain simmers.
“At times I find it even hard to miss him because I’m so angry at you for doing this for no reason,” she said.
She struggles to sleep.
“It’s not only at night when I have the worst nightmares, I live them every day.”
Senseless killing or self-defense
Howard and Takemoto went to the Hour Glass Pub on Oct. 2, 2015 to celebrate the birthdays of several of their friends.
Richardson, who had just turned 21, was also at the pub. Takemoto and Howard had never met Richardson prior to that night.
When Richardson got to the bar he started playing pool with a man named Joshua Wiebe – a friend of Howard and Takemoto – who would end up surviving a gunshot wound to the leg during the double murder.
After an estimated 2.5 hours of drinking and playing pool at the bar, Richardson would find himself outside in the parking lot that doubled as a smoking area.
Howard and Takemoto were also out there, along with several other people.
Words were exchanged and Takemoto and Richardson got into a fight.
Howard — the peacemaker — would do everything he could to keep the two men separated. He had his hands up and out as he walked slowly towards Richardson.
Witnesses testified that Howard was telling Richardson to calm down and that no one wanted a problem.
Richardson testified that he felt surrounded. He described being punched and then pushed.
At his sentencing on Tuesday, he re-affirmed his belief that the shooting was done in self-defense.
“It wasn’t until I got hit — and I didn’t see it coming,” he said. “That’s when things changed for me. I don’t want you to feel like it was ever my intention for this to happen. I panicked and here we are.”
He went on to tell the families that while the video surveillance from the bar, which captured the entire shooting, made it seem like he had ample time to think, he didn’t.
“When you’re in the middle of something like that, it’s different,” he said.
Prosecutors said that Richardson pulled out a handgun and shot Howard at close range. Both Howard and Takemoto were struck multiple times and died at the scene.
Wiebe, the third person shot, survived the shooting.
“Joshua Wiebe, you know, I’m sorry,” Richardson said. “I’m happy that you’re still here to be with your daughter. You know that’s important for me.”
Takemoto was remembered by his cousin Kimberleigh Logan as being a son, brother, nephew, cousin and a beloved friend.
“When you murdered him, it caused immeasurable damage to so many lives,” Logan said.
Takemoto, she said, had just returned to classes at Portland Community College and was a 4.0 student.
“He was so happy about being back in school,” Logan said. “It had opened an entire world for him.”
She said Takemoto loved to learn.
Takemoto was happiest when he was outside spending time with family and friends.
“It didn’t matter whether it was fishing, (being in the) mountain, hiking, going to the beach,” she said. “He really liked going to the river.”
Takemoto was described a goofy young man who was smart with his humor.
“We always had a really good time on his birthday,” Logan said. “He liked ice cream cake. Mint Chocolate chip.”
The holidays, especially Easter, will be difficult for the family because Takemoto took pride in hiding eggs for the younger kids in the family.
“Eric had the kind of smile that would really light up a room,” Logan said. “There was nothing like it.”
With the courtroom full of people, two large posters with photos of Takemoto and Howard sat next to the judge and in view of Richardson.
“You ended the lives of two of the most amazing people that were loved and valued by so many of us,” Logan said.
Felton Howard Jr., Anthony’s father, said his son touched so many lives.
“He was what we called the family protector,” Howard said of his son.
“If he would have gotten to know you, and would have become a friend of yours, you would have been a friend of his for life,” Howard told Richardson.
He recalled the night of Oct. 2, 2015 when he got word his son had been shot. He was at home, getting ready to fall sleep. His phone rang. The person on the other end delivered the worst kind of news a father could ever hear. His son was shot and had been killed.
At the time, Howard was living near 160th and Burnside.
He jumped out of bed, threw on some clothes, got in his car and sped towards the Hour Glass Pub.
“I ran every red light on Burnside until I got to 84th Avenue,” he said.
He slowed down when he saw several police cars. The red and blue lights on the patrol vehicles flashing.
Just down the block Richardson – at that very moment – was being taken into custody police. Anthony Howard’s father had no idea the police officers were arresting his son’s killer.
“That’s what I’m going to remember for the rest of my life,” he said.
Howard ended his remarks by telling Richardson that he wouldn’t spend the rest of his life hating him.
“It takes too much energy to hate,” he said. “I need that energy to love my family.”
Shaunae Collins, Anthony Howard’s sister, told Richardson, “I want to forgive, I do.”
“But I’m just not ready yet. I will forgive you one day. I will.”