After four hours of deliberations, a Lincoln County jury found Jerry Richards guilty of second-degree murder. He will now face 37 years in prison.
The victim, Donald Coleman, was killed in August of 2018. Investigators said Richards and two other suspects ambushed Coleman and attacked him in his own home.
“This is one of the more gruesome cases I have seen as far as physical injuries,” said Lincoln County District Attorney Allan Grubb. “There were three parties that got out of the truck and were involved, Deirdre Allen, Mr. Whitlow, and Jerry Richards.”
A friend found Coleman’s body the next day and called 911.
Second Caller: “A two-story house, a white one, and um, I found my buddy out there.”
Dispatch: “Okay, is he inside the house, or is he outside?”
Second Caller: “He is laying outside slumped over.”
Second Caller: “I turned around and left.”
Dispatch: “Okay, I understand.”
Deputies said Coleman had a large head wound and was attacked with an ax, hammer and had also been shot.
Allen, Richards, and Whitlow were all arrested less than 48 hours after the crime.
“The motive is at best a guess,” said DA Grubb. “It was a struggle, there was a fight that ensured and he, he tried to fight back as well as he could from the people going into his home.”
Allen and Whitlow were sentenced to 15 years in prison, and both testified against Richards. Allen will also serve additional time on probation. Richards, the man who pulled the trigger, will serve 37 years for second-degree murder, which is nearly a life sentence.
It's a unique sentence the jury came up with. They thought the shooter should be behind bars until he was the same age as the man he killed.
“It's a mess left to the family to clean up. Law enforcement does not clean those scenes. It's a hideous thing for a family to have to deal with,” DA Grubb said.
Richards will be formally sentenced in November.