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Defendants in murder case to be sentenced today

By Janice Gregorson

The Post-Bulletin

They said they didn’t mean to harm anyone, that things just got out of hand.

But Audumn Richardson, Mustafa Bush and Parnell Johnson admit their actions cost Cory Richardson his life nearly a year ago, and now they will spend years in prison.

Today, the three were to be sentenced by different Olmsted District Court judges to a combined total of 45 years in prison.

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In recent weeks, all three have pleaded guilty to second-degree unintentional murder. They admitted their actions led to the shooting death of the 25-year-old Richardson at northwest Rochester home on May 6, 2006.

Under the plea agreements, Bush, of Rochester, is to get a 20-year, eight-month prison term; Richardson, of Rochester, a 15-year prison term; and Johnson, of Minneapolis, a 10-year term.

They must serve two-thirds of the time before being eligible for release. In Bush’s case, the sentence runs concurrently with an unrelated drug sentence he is serving. All will receive credit for the time they’ve served in jail since their arrests last year.

While pleading guilty, no one has admitted pulling the trigger that killed Richardson.

Bush and Johnson, both 23, say they were simply trying to help Audumn Richardson, 27, get her husband out of the home. Bush and Johnson admit they were armed with loaded weapons when they entered the house to confront Richardson. They said that during a scuffle there was gunfire and Richardson was shot. Each says the other shot Richardson.

Audumn Richardson admits she enlisted Bush and Johnson to get her husband out of the house and that she let them inside. She says that she was in another room with her children when she heard gunshots and that she never intended for her husband to get hurt.

"I didn’t want anything to happen. I just wanted Cory to leave the house," she said at a plea hearing in February.

A fourth person, Leah Quam of Rochester, has pleaded guilty to aiding an offender after the fact. She admitted giving Bush a ride to Saint Marys Hospital for treatment of a gunshot wound to his leg. Her sentencing was also scheduled for today.

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The sentencing hearings were scheduled on the same day to accommodate the victim’s mother, Irma Richardson, who came from Texas.

While she hasn’t been physically present at previous court hearings, she listened in via telephone when Bush, Johnson and her daughter-in-law each pleaded guilty to killing her middle son.

That’s when police in her home of Atlanta, Tex., knocked on her door with news that Cory was dead.

Police were called at 4:53 a.m. May 6 to 5441 Weatherstone Circle N.W., where Cory and Audumn lived with their infant son and her two daughters from a previous relationship. They found a blood trail from the upstairs bedroom, down the stairs and out the front door and into the driveway. In the upstairs bedroom, they found Cory Richardson lying on his back on his bed, dead. He had been shot twice.

A neighbor told officers he heard gunshots, looked out and saw two black men, one limping, run from the home and flee in the Richardson van.

At 5:05 a.m., police got a call that a person had arrived at Saint Marys Hospital emergency room with a gunshot wound to the leg. That person turned out to be Bush.

At 5:22 a.m., Rochester firefighters were sent to the 2000 block of 50th Street Northwest. A vehicle was on fire. It turned out to be the Richardson van.

Security video at a nearby Kwik Trip store showed Quam buying gasoline at 5:12 a.m. that day. The Richardson van fire occurred about half a mile away from the gas station.

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Security video also linked Quam’s vehicle to the one that dropped Bush off at the hospital.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was called in to gather evidence from the home.

They found seven empty shell casings from a handgun, six bullet holes in the mattress, three bullet holes in Cory Richardson, two of them from a single round, and wadding from two shotgun rounds and countless birdshot size pellets in the bedroom.

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