Archive for Saturday, September 30, 2006

Defendant in HIV trial takes stand, says he didn’t intend to infect women

September 30, 2006

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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.

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.

Comments

Sigmund 8 years, 9 months ago

As oldgoof has pointed out the LJWorld article does not fully convey the entirity of a trial. In particular I saw nothing in their articles on the jury instructions. I would bet the jury was told that despite the defendents testimony to the contrary that his intent could be infered from his acts or failure to act. I would also be suprised if the prosecution didn't ask the jury to find that act of removing the condom in one instance and failing to inform of his HIV status in other instances was proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he intended to expose them to a disease.

Godot 8 years, 9 months ago

"If anyone deserves a "warning" label tatooed on their chest, it's this creep"

That won't do any good. He'll just keep his shirt on. The tatoo needs to be on his forehead.

Sigmund 8 years, 9 months ago

Godot, I think the statute only requires exposure to a deadly disease, not a tranmission and/or infection of a deadly disease.

JimmyJoeBob 8 years, 9 months ago

Sounds like he beat the DA's office. No Intent no crime.

Godot 8 years, 9 months ago

Actually, I do not see how he can be guilty of a crime if none of the women has contracted HIV. He is guilty of immoral behavior, for sure, but, really, until someone turns up with HIV and it can be proven he transmitted it to him or her, who did he harm?

oldgoof 8 years, 9 months ago

Solomon: a couple of 6 inch news articles can never adequately relay the information contained in a three day trial.

Confrontation 8 years, 9 months ago

This man deserves to rot in prison. Let him have some fun with other sick and disgusting perverts. Anyone who is diagnosed with HIV also receives post-test counseling, which includes warnings about transmitting HIV regardless of medication. As Dr. Penn said, this idiot could have had a high viral load while having sex with these women. A lot of people have viral loads that are super high one day and then get lower. So, it means nothing that his viral load was low months before or after he tried to kill these women. He's just pissed because he got infected, and he wanted to share his hate for life with others. It's even worse that his fiance decided to get infected just to suffer with him.

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