Third York Fair rape defendant requests move to juvenile court
A York County judge has heard arguments about the third of three Manchester Township teens accused of luring a 14-year-old girl from the York Fair a year ago and gang-raping her at gunpoint.
All three are seeking to have their criminal cases moved to juvenile court. They remain free on bail, charged as adults with rape and related offenses.
Daishon Richardson, 17, had his juvenile decertification hearing on Thursday, Sept. 27, and Friday, Sept. 28.
Co-defendant Kelvin Mercedes, 17, had his hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 25.
Both teens are awaiting the decision of presiding Common Pleas Judge Harry M. Ness, who has given attorneys time to file briefs before he makes his rulings.
The third co-defendant, Andrew R. Miller, also 17, had his juvenile decertification hearing earlier in September. Afterward, Ness ordered him to stand trial in adult court, calling the alleged rape a "well-planned attack."
Testifying on Richardson's behalf Thursday were his mother, a family friend, his juvenile probation officer and Howard S. Rosen, a psychologist retained by the defense.
Under questioning by defense attorney Lee Cohen, Lashanna Greene testified that her son is loving, respectful, does chores, holds down a job, pays for some of his own expenses and is kind to their elderly neighbor, his little sister and others.
"I set rules in my home," Greene said, adding Richardson follows those rules, including doing his own laundry, keeping his room clean and doing other regular household chores such as washing dishes and cleaning the bathroom.
Struggling in school: Under cross-examination by senior deputy prosecutor Kara Bowser, Greene admitted her son, who is in cyber school, is not doing well in his classes this year and sometimes doesn't even log in to the school system in the mornings.
"He's been struggling a lot with completing assignments," she said, adding she reached out to school officials as well as to a therapist because she believes he needs more structure and is depressed.
Rosen testified he conducted an evaluation on Richardson. He said the teen scored high in testing for amenability to treatment and low for being a danger to society.
The psychologist recommended Richardson's case be moved to juvenile court, where the system would have about three years — until he's 21 — to work with him.
"Adult incarceration is not going to make him a better citizen in five to 10 years," Rosen said.
But psychiatrist Dr. Larry Rotenberg, retained by the prosecution to evaluate Richardson's amenability to treatment, disagreed.
'Phenomenally cruel': He said the facts of the case "speak to a high degree of (criminal) sophistication" by the defendants and described the defendants' alleged treatment of the victim as "just so phenomenally cruel."
The crime "represented a degree of sadism that was just literally beyond the pale," the doctor testified.
Richardson isn't intellectually disabled and has no mental illness, according to Rotenberg.
"He's a person with two faces, so to speak," the doctor said — and who has "a rather peripheral relationship with the truth."
On one hand, he helps his mother and elderly neighbor, does chores and is friendly and respectful. On the other hand, Rotenberg said, Richardson has no remorse for the alleged rape.
In fact, Richardson takes no responsibility for it, according to Rotenberg, who then wondered from the witness stand what good three years of treatment in the juvenile system would be.
"So what is there to treat him for?" the doctor asked. "The treatment he needs is to accept responsibility and come to terms with what happened."
The defense stipulated to previous testimony from a York Hospital nurse who examined the girl, from a state Department of Corrections employee who spoke about a youthful-offender program in the adult prison system and from the girl's grandmother, according to Kyle King, spokesman for the York County District Attorney's Office.
The background: Mercedes, Richardson and Miller are accused of raping the girl while threatening her with a handgun the night of Sept. 16, 2017.
The girl testified at the three co-defendants' preliminary hearing in February 2018 that she went to the York Fair that evening with two friends but left by herself through "the back gate."
It was there that she ran into Richardson and Miller, whom she knew, and a third teen with them she didn't know, whom she has identified as Mercedes.
They asked her if she wanted to see a dead body, and all four walked away together, stopping on the property of a business near West York's baseball field, she said. The girl estimated that was about 10 p.m.
That's where Mercedes lifted his shirt to show he had a gun, and Richardson told her to perform oral sex on him and pushed her head down, she testified.
"They all started taking their pants down," she said. "I just did what they told me to do ... because Kelvin had a gun."
Dragged away: The trio then forcibly dragged her behind an abandoned house and took turns raping her, with Mercedes at times holding down her arms and at times holding a gun, according to the girl.
Afterward, one of the attackers called for someone to pick them up, and she was forced into a maroon SUV under threat of physical harm, according to her testimony.
After a short drive, she was pushed out of the SUV and fell to the ground as it drove off, she said.
Defense attorneys for Miller, Richardson and Mercedes have said their clients maintain their innocence.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.