CAMBRIDGE – The Henry County State's Attorney's office will attempt to find evidence from a 17-year-old murder trial to comply with the circuit court's orders and the defendant's request.
Defense attorney Nate Nieman is preparing an amended post-conviction relief petition for Jim L. Richardson, 70, formerly of Davenport, who is serving a 60-year sentence at the Western Illinois Correctional Center, Mount Sterling, for the 2002 murder of his brother-in-law, Harold Collins, of Orion.
The defense is looking for three pieces of evidence from the trial: the videotape of Richardson with a state police detective, the 2x4 that was used to bludgeon the victim to death and a photograph of the deceased showing his shaved head.
Nieman said the defense will try to show the injuries could not have been made with a 2x4. He said they will also try to show that the videotape was manipulated.
Richardson told the court he had been told at trial not to say anything about the evidence “or they'd go after my son.”
Judge Jeffrey O'Connor said he didn't know if the 2x4 was still in existence, but it was possible that any 2x4 would suffice. “If the allegation is a 2x4 could not have done the damage, all you need is a 2x4,” he said.
Henry County State's Attorney Matt Schutte was given until May 6 to identify what items exist and to find them. Nieman's deadline to file an amended post-conviction relief is Aug. 21. A status hearing will be held on Oct. 2. The judge noted the state's first response may be a motion to dismiss the petition, and Schutte said Richardson's case would have to survive a motion to dismiss.
Nieman also asked that Richardson be remanded back to the Henry County Jail to facilitate communication on the petition, even if it would be for just a couple of weeks.
“I'm inclined to allow that, it's just a question of when and for how long,” said the judge.
Richardson's attorney at his jury trial was Eugene Stockton. He was later represented by Ed Woller, who filed a petition for post-conviction relief in 2015 that Nieman said was “kind of a mess” and included issues that should have been disqualified because they had been litigated before.