City man admits to manslaughter in 2010 shooting

Published 9:00 pm Friday, March 2, 2012

A Brookhaven man pleaded guilty Friday morning to manslaughter rather than go to trial next week on charges of murder.

     Robert M. Wilcher, 22, was charged in the Sept. 20, 2010, shooting death of Domanic Richardson, then 27.

     Judge David Strong sentenced Wilcher, most recently of 619 North Laura St., to 20 years with the last 10 suspended for five years of post release supervision, during which Wilcher agreed not to live in Lincoln County.

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     Wilcher spoke briefly before sentencing.

     “I’m sorry,” he said quietly.

     Annette Richardson, Domanic Richardson’s mother, spoke before sentencing.

     “The worst day of my life was Sept. 20 when Mr. Wilcher gunned my son down,” Richardson said through tears. “That was my only child I had.”

     At Friday’s plea, District Attorney Dee Bates outlined the state’s understanding of the case.

     Richardson was shot four times in the back and once in the side. A gun recovered from Wilcher’s car was identified as the one Richardson was shot with.

     Bates said he would call Nolan Jones, Brookhaven’s former assistant police chief of to the stand. Jones would testify Wilcher admitted in questioning to the shooting of Richardson, according to Bates.

     Public defender Lesa Baker, Wilcher’s attorney, declined to comment after Friday’s proceedings.

     Accepting a reduced charge became a discussion between attorneys in the case recently, said the district attorney.

     “The defense had brought us certain evidence that needed to be considered,” Bates said following the Friday morning hearing.

     The plea deal of manslaughter charges recognizes the shooting as imperfect self-defense, Bates said. A gun was found on Richardson’s body in his pocket, Bates said.

     Further, Bates said evidence indicates a series of altercations occurred between Richardson and Wilcher before the shooting.

     On the morning he was shot, Richardson, who lived across the street from Wilcher in Cloverdale, crossed the street into Wilcher’s yard, Bates said. The Castle Doctrine could have come into play in the trial, Bates believed.

     “In Mississippi, you have no obligation to retreat on your property when faced with someone,” Bates said.

     Bates emphasized, however, that Richardson’s gun was in his pocket, and he was shot in the back.

     Strong’s sentence was the recommendation given by Bates. The sentencing range for manslaughter is zero to 20 years.

     Richardson’s family expressed dissatisfaction with the sentence handed down.

     “I seen so much killing in this town,” said Darlene Graham, Domanic Richardson’s aunt. “Ten years is not enough. These people go around killing and they get slapped on the hand and let back out.”

     Annette Richardson emphasized the permanence of her son’s death.

     “My son and I had the same birthday,” she said. “Every time my birthday rolls around, I’ll have to think that he’s not here anymore.”

     Strong spoke about the tragedy of the case before handing down a sentence.

     “These ladies are right,” Strong said. “There is no sentence I can impose that will bring their loved one back.”