After deliberating for five hours over two days, a Montgomery County jury found Reeco Richardson guilty on Oct. 5 of two counts of joy riding for his participation in a fatal, stolen car crash last March.

The 12-member jury deadlocked six to six on more serious charges of auto theft and grand theft. Richardson, 19, of Washington, D.C., is on bond pending sentencing set for Dec. 12. He could face up to seven years in prison.

“Justice was served,” said Montgomery County Assistant State’s Attorney Steve Chaikin. “Thanks to the jury for their hard work deliberating the verdict. We’re hopeful Mr. Richardson can be rehabilitated, but sadly, there are no winners in this case.”

Attorneys for Richardson also claimed victory.

“We accept the verdict, but we will look at any appellate options,” said Donald Huskey, an attorney on Richardson’s defense team. “Since we got an even split on the theft charges, I think we did a good job and the jury really listened to our case.”

Richardson is charged in connection with a fatal car crash that took place just after 1:15 a.m. on March 23. He was a passenger in a stolen 2000 Toyota Echo driven by Reynard Osman, 16, which was heading south on Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase Circle with Montgomery County police in pursuit, when the car went out of control and was involved in a fiery crash. Osman, along with two passengers, died. Richardson, the lone survivor, filed a $10 million lawsuit a month later, claiming that the crash occurred after police rammed the car during the chase. A few days later, he was arrested on four counts related to car theft.
Several officers during the trial, however, took the witness stand and denied that any police cars came into contact with the stolen vehicle.

In opening arguments, the defense praised police officers as heroes who attempted to save the four young men from the burning car. However, they argued that police did not follow proper procedure in chasing the car and in the aftermath of the crash and subsequent investigation. Montgomery County Police Department spokesman Captain Paul Starks said in a previous interview that officers followed proper procedure.

Montgomery County Police Detective Tom Muollo testified that procedural errors had been made. When questioned about the investigation, Muollo admitted that he did not contact D.C. police for more information about the stolen car or if Richardson was ever seen around the car. Muollo also said he did not get statements from those close to Richardson during the time the car was reported missing and did not request fingerprints from the vehicle.

The civil case is scheduled for March 8, 2013. 


Teria Rogers

Special to the AFRO