Death sentence for Rite Aid killer Christopher Kennedy's three accomplices in the 2003 robbery-shooting face mandatory life terms.

Posted: August 03, 2004

Convicted killer Christopher Kennedy, who gunned down a Rite Aid store manager during a robbery last year, was sentenced to death yesterday by a Common Pleas Court jury.

Kennedy, 22, of the 1000 block of West Thompson Street, sat impassively as the jury's verdict was announced shortly after 3 p.m.

Kennedy was convicted Thursday of first-degree murder, robbery, conspiracy and weapons offenses in the death of Michael Richardson, 35, a father of five, who managed the Rite Aid branch at 12th Street and Girard Avenue.

After the conviction, the jury turned to determining the sentence: life in prison without parole or death.

Richardson's wife, Kristi, who told the jury Friday that she felt "like I have been cut in half - a big part of my life is gone, missing," slumped slightly when the sentence was announced. A family member patted her shoulder.

After the jury was dismissed, Michael Fisher, assistant district attorney, called Michael Richardson "just a great guy."

"He was a great guy in the community," Fisher said. "I can't think of a better model for a kid out of Nicetown than Michael Richardson. I can't think of a better model for a wife and mother than Kristi Richardson."

Kristi Richardson, surrounded by her family, declined to comment after the sentencing.

Kennedy's aunt, Etta Kennedy, testified that Christopher Kennedy had been beaten as a child by his father and by a subsequent partner of his mother's. He was removed from the family and placed in foster homes beginning at age 8.

As she recounted this history, Etta Kennedy broke down and began to wail.

"I feel sorry for the [Richardson] family," she said, sobbing. "I know [Christopher] is sorry. I know I'm sorry. My uncle died the same way. He was begging for his life."

Marie Kennedy, Christopher Kennedy's mother, also testified that her son was beaten as a child and that she occasionally intervened.

Christopher Kennedy declined to testify on his own behalf. His accomplices in the Rite Aid robbery and shooting, Jamaar Richardson, 22; James Richardson, 24; and Lavar Brown, 26, were convicted Thursday of second-degree murder, robbery and related offenses. They face mandatory life sentences. The Richardson brothers are unrelated to Michael Richardson.

Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina set a date of Sept. 9 to impose the sentence on Kennedy.

Contact staff writer Stephan Salisbury at 215-854-5594 or ssalisbury@phillynews.com.

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