Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
SAN DIEGO MAN CONVICTED OF 2007 SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES MURDER OF HOME DEPOT MANAGER DURING STORE ROBBERY
SANTA ANA – A San Diego man was found guilty today of special circumstances murder for shooting and killing a Tustin Home Depot Manager. Jason Russell Richardson, 39, Oceanside, was found guilty by a jury of one felony count of special circumstances murder during the commission of robbery and burglary, and the sentencing enhancements for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death were found true. The District Attorney is seeking the death penalty in this case. The penalty phase against Richardson is scheduled to begin Tuesday, May 4, 2010, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-40, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Death Penalty Trial
Before the death penalty is pursued by the Orange County District Attorney a special circumstances committee will meet and confer. The committee consists of the District Attorney, the Senior Assistant and Assistant District Attorney in charge of the Homicide Unit, and other prosecutors experienced in capital cases. The committee will discuss the defendant’s record, the nature of the crime, and the vulnerability of the victim, among other factors. The committee will also consider mitigating circumstances from the defense attorney. The final decision to pursue the death penalty rests on the District Attorney.
The trial will be conducted in two phases, the guilt phase and the penalty phase. In the guilt phase, the People are burdened with proving beyond a reasonable doubt all of the elements of the charged crimes. The jury will consider the evidence to determine the defendant’s guilt. In the penalty phase, the same jury will consider the aggravating and mitigating circumstances of the evidence presented by the People and defense to determine the defendant’s penalty, death or life without the possibility of parole. An aggravating circumstance is any fact, condition, or event relating to the commission of a crime that increases the wrongfulness of the defendant’s conduct, nature of the offense, or harmful impact of the crime that supports the decision to impose the death penalty. Mitigating circumstances support not imposing the death penalty by providing any fact, condition, or event that reduces the defendant’s blameworthiness of the crime, even if it does not legally justify or excuse the crime.
Facts of the Case
On the morning of Feb. 9, 2007, Richardson left his Oceanside home wearing a full-body painter’s suit, sunglasses, dust mask, and gloves. At approximately 10:00 a.m., Richardson entered a Home Depot store in Tustin carrying a black bag with the intention of stealing money from the store. He wore a disguise to avoid being recognized while trying to blend in with customers who frequent the store. The defendant approached store employees and asked for the manager. Richardson approached the victim Thomas Egan, a store manager, pulled out a gun, and demanded all the cash kept in the store’s safe. After Egan informed Richardson he did not have access to the safe, the defendant headed towards the store’s front cash registers. Egan instructed nearby employees to call 9-1-1 and then followed Richardson to the front of the store. The defendant attempted to rob an employee at gunpoint and ignored Egan, who was trying to discourage him from harming or robbing anyone. Richardson shot the victim in the stomach. He stole approximately $500 and fled the scene.