Man gets 56 years for shooting death of baby daughter
By Ruth Ann Krause Post-Tribune correspondent November 6, 2012 3:44PM
Updated: December 8, 2012 6:35AM
Lake Superior Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. sentenced a Gary man to 56 years in prison for the murder of his 18-month-old daughter.
Cordell Richardson, 25, who pleaded guilty to the charge without a plea agreement on Sept. 11, had backpedaled on his admission when he was interviewed by a probation officer who prepared his presentence investigation report, saying he didn’t remember he even had a daughter.
In a dialogue with the judge, however, Richardson admitted he fatally shot Eboni Nicole Richardson, just four days before she turned 19 months old.
After the shooting on Aug. 27, 2009, outside the former Bennigan’s on 5th Avenue and Virginia Street in Gary, Richardson then shot himself in the head.
He was hospitalized for about two years at Logansport State Hospital, where he regained competency and was transferred back to Lake County Jail.
Gary police Detective Jeff Hornyak said evidence in the case showed Eboni died of a close-contact gunshot wound to the chest. Richardson had refused to return the girl to her mother, who had told police Richardson was acting strangely before the homicide.
Patricia Patterson, Richardson’s mother, said her son loved Eboni and was not a violent person. Patterson said her son was upset that the child’s mother, Shaina Hill, had planned to relocate to Texas with their daughter.
Deputy prosecutor Michelle Jatkiewicz argued for the maximum 65-year sentence. “He chose to murder her instead of turning her over,” she said of Eboni. “We have a very tragic situation that, but for the selfishness of the defendant, Eboni Richardson would be here today.”
The toddler was asleep when Richardson killed her. “She never had a chance,” Jatkiewicz said.
Defense attorney Alex Woloshansky argued for leniency in light of Richardson’s lack of criminal history except for a minor traffic violation. He noted his client pleaded guilty, accepted responsibility and had shown remorse.
“I just want to say that I’m sorry,” Richardson said. “I apologize to everybody involved. I lost touch with reality.”
Murder is punishable by 45 to 65 years, with 55 years as the advisory sentence.
The judge cited aggravating factors including the age of the victim and the way in which she died.
In mitigation, Stefaniak found Richardson’s lack of criminal record, his guilty plea and acceptance of responsibility and his now-altered mental status as the result of the self-inflicted gunshot wound.