Teen: No excuse for murder

16-year-old testifies at sentencing after guilty plea in February

By Trish Mehaffey, The Gazette

Daimonay Richardson testified Friday she couldn’t justify what she did and didn’t know whether she wanted her freedom.

The 16-year-old, tearing up and eventually breaking down on the witness stand during day two of her sentencing, admitted it didn’t matter what happened in her life because it didn’t justify her taking the life of Ronald Kunkle, 22, on May 18, 2013.

“It doesn’t matter if I was beaten or raped (in her past) or hung upside down,” Richardson said. “It doesn’t make it right … doesn’t change anything.”

Richardson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in February and faces up to 50 years in prison. She, along with boyfriend D Anthony Curd, 19, armed themselves with steak knives and planned to rob and kill Kunkle for $2,000 Curd thought he had.

As part of the plea agreement, Richardson has to testify against Curd, who is charged with first-degree murder.

Richardson’s attorneys are arguing for a deferred sentence with probation or a suspended sentence with no mandatory time, little prison time and probation. The judge has the discretion for less prison time because of Richardson’s age.

Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden has asked the judge to sentence her to up to 50 years.

The hearing started Thursday and will continue next Friday as both sides give final arguments. The judge likely will make a written ruling later.

Kunkle was stabbed 39 times in the head, neck and torso. Richardson admitted Friday she went along with it but said she felt she had no choice. She thought Curd would kill her if she didn’t.

Richardson said she met Kunkle through Curd. She didn’t know him well and had no reason to harm him. Curd came home angry that day and told her Kunkle had $2,000 and he wanted it.

“He said we’re going to have to kill him,” Richardson said. “I was shocked, I was scared. ... I felt sick.”

Richardson said after it happened she wanted to tell someone — it was eating her alive. She had nightmares and continued using drugs and alcohol. She said she never would have done this on her own.

Vander Sanden asked how she is taking responsibility for the crime. He mentioned that she first lied to police about Curd’s involvement.

“Didn’t you swear on your grandmother’s grave that Curd had nothing to do with it?” Vander Sanden said.

Richardson said she did.

Vander Sanden asked whether she was expecting to get probation for killing someone instead of prison time.

Richardson said she was expecting to do prison time.

The defense also had Mark Cunningham, a clinical and forensic psychologist from Dallas, explain mitigating factors that affected Richardson’s actions.

He explained that damaging or impairing factors in Richardson’s background, such as substance abuse, father abandonment, neglect, sexual abuse at 13, inadequate mental intervention and the death of a grandmother who was like a parent, can lower her moral culpability.

The factors don’t excuse her behavior, but her guilt already has been determined, and the judge can consider how these factors led to her actions.

Cunningham said Richardson’s age also should be considered because the frontal lobe of the brain isn’t fully developed until age 25. This affects things such as self-restraint, empathy, impulses and appreciation of consequences.

Curd also used alcohol and drugs to help control her, Cunningham said.

Cunningham said Richardson was a low risk to reoffend.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@sourcemedia.net

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