He says he now has a tattoo on his chest with a "Warning" sign and the message "HIV positive."
But three women who had unprotected sex with him say he never warned them, and a fourth says she knew he was infected but that he took off a condom during sex.
Jurors deliberated all afternoon but didn't reach a verdict Friday in the case of a Lawrence man charged with exposing the four women to HIV - something he testified Friday that he never meant to do.
After two days of testimony, 30-year-old Robert W. Richardson II took the witness stand in his own defense Friday morning. He said he didn't think the women needed to know he was HIV-positive because he didn't think he could transmit the disease, given the low level of the virus in his blood.
"I didn't believe it was possible," he said.
He said a regimen of drugs kept the amount of virus in his body at a level that was too small to measure. At least, that was the outcome during a November lab test, roughly in the middle of the five-month time frame during which he's charged with exposing the women. At other times, the amount in his body fluctuated, depending on whether he was taking the medicine and whether his body was developing a resistance to it - something that happened in early 2005 and prompted him to go on a new type of drug.
More about the case
- 6News video: Defendant says it wasn't his intention to infect women
- Expert: Drugs made HIV transmission unlikely (09-29-06)
- HIV-exposure trial questions man's intent (09-28-06)
- HIV-exposure trial to begin next week (09-23-06)
- Judge won't dismiss HIV charges (09-07-06)
- HIV case first test of state statute (08-21-06)
Richardson said on the witness stand that he now realizes it was morally wrong not to tell the women before having sex, but that he never meant to expose them to HIV. Prosecutors must prove he intended to expose them.
Richardson said that after the women went to police early this year, he got an "HIV" warning tattoo on his chest. Defense attorney Thomas Johnson asked for permission for Richardson to show it to jurors, but prosecutors objected and Judge Stephen Six found it was irrelevant because it happened after the alleged crimes.
Richardson worked in the environmental division of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. He said Friday that he grew up in Georgia, briefly attended the U.S. Air Force Academy and later went to McNeese State University in Louisiana. He said he moved to Lawrence in June 2003 from Oklahoma.
In her closing argument, assistant Dist. Atty. Amy McGowan said Richardson decided to "play God" with the women by not informing them of his status. Johnson said the state had not proven that Richardson had the intent of exposing the women- and that if he'd wanted to expose them, he could have simply stopped taking his drugs.
The jury began deliberations about 12:30 p.m. after closing arguments, and jurors went home for the weekend about 5 p.m.
Jurors will resume deliberations on Monday.