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18richardson two for web and thurs.

By Janice Gregorson

gregor@postbulletin.com

April Richardson has seen movies where people kill each other.

But the 17-year-old said she never thought it would happen to her family.

Parnell Johnson’s head sank as he listened to the story.

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He heard how a lady from the Richardson’s church in tiny Atlanta, Texas, knocked on their door May 6, 2006, accompanied by two police officers. He heard how they asked for her mother; how her mother cried and shook when told that her middle son, Cory, was dead.

Johnson, 23, of Minneapolis, is one of three people to plead guilty to second-degree murder in connection with the 25-year-old man’s death in Rochester last May. He was back in court Wednesday for sentencing and handed an 11 3/4 year prison sentence for his role. Co-defendants Mustafa Bush, 23, of Rochester, was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison and Leah Quam, 24, of Rochester, was put on probation for aiding Bush after the murder. Sentencing for Audumn Richardson, 27, of Rochester, who also has pleaded guilty to murder charges, was put on hold pending a psychiatric evaluation.

The Richardsons drove nearly 20 hours to get to Rochester for the sentencing hearings, scattered throughout the day.

At each hearing, they were given a chance to share their thoughts.

"There is so much I could say,’’ Irma Richardson said in a handwritten statement read by a victim advocate.

"I could go into extensive detail of how I lay awake at night and cry. I could talk about how much I miss Cory and long to hear his voice, but that wouldn’t change anything and it wouldn’t bring Cory back."

"What I will say is that I hurt. I hurt more than anyone can imagine. A very special part of my family has been snatched away and I don’t understand why.

She asked in the statement, "What kind of person brutally takes the life of another?"

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She wrote about her son, raised in Atlanta, a small community nestled in the piney woods of northeast Texas. It’s where Irma continues to work as a pre-kindgarten teacher in a Head Start program.

She wanted people to know that Cory was a "good person who wouldn’t harm a fly." She told how as a child, he would catch flies, put them in a matchbox and carry them around in his pocket, then take them out and feed them crumbs.

"If I even talked about killing them, he would cry,’’ she said.

"Sound crazy?" she asked. "Perhaps. Cory just loved life; stray cats, dogs, injured birds, anything, anyone he could help, he would."

And she told of her own sadness.

"I love Cory. I always told him that whenever he needed me, I would be there. It breaks my heart that I wasn’t able to keep my word.

"There was a monster in his room that awful night in May 2006 and I wasn’t able to protect him."

She said she would have preferred life sentences for Johnson and Bush, but says she has to respect the law.

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"Now I can allow God to begin to work a peace into my life and really accept the fact that Cory is really gone from this world, but he’ll forever live in my heart," she said.

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