Other Articles in this Category
Most Viewed Stories
Conviction upheld by Supreme Court in 1993 Summit Valley murder
On Monday, the California Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a man charged with murdering his wife in Summit Valley in 1993.
If William Richards, 63, had been cleared, he would have been the first convicted murderer in California to be freed through the California Innocence Project. He was sentenced to 25 years to life.
The California Supreme Count ruled 4-3 to uphold Richards’ 1997 conviction for the murder of his wife, Pamela, 40.
Pamela Richards’ body was found in August 1993 at the couple’s trailer in Summit Valley. According to the coroner’s office, she died from strangulation and a blow to the head.
Richards testified that he found his wife’s body when he came home around midnight on Aug. 10, 1993. After cradling his wife’s body, he called 911.
After responding to the scene, deputies interviewed Richards and arrested him. Beginning in 1994, Richards’ first three trials were declared mistrials due to two hung juries and one instance of leaked information.
In 1997, Richards was convicted after only a day and a half of deliberation by the jury to the surprise of both the prosecutor and defense attorney, according to previous reports.
After the conviction, the wife’s family believed he was innocent and that he did not receive a fair trial, according to previous reports.
“Deep down in my heart, I didn’t think Bill did it,” Kathy Olejnik, Pamela Richard’s sister, previously said. “My mom and dad don’t think Bill did it.”
In 2001, Richards contacted the California Innocence Project to assist with his case. Members of the Innocence Project believed that serial killer Angel Maturino Resendiz was to blame in this murder. Resendiz received the death penalty in 2000 for a murder in Texas, and his whereabouts at the time of this murder were unknown.
In May 2003, a Superior Court judge ordered DNA testing of forensic evidence of Richards’ case. At the time, Assistant District Attorney Michael Risley, who prosecuted all of Richards’ trials, said he was “fairly confident the DNA analysis will not exculpate Richards.”
In 2009, San Bernardino County Judge Brian McCarville reversed Richards’ conviction due to new evidence and the belief that an expert had testified falsely at Richards’ original trial. The prosecution appealed the decision and Richards remained in jail, unable to post bail, according to previous reports.
Risley’s original prediction came true almost 10 years later with the California Supreme Court ruling on Monday to uphold the murder conviction.
A court opinion on Monday stated that “the petitioner has failed to establish that any of the evidence offered at his 1997 trial was false” and that “his newly discovered evidence does not ‘point unerringly to innocence or reduced culpability.’ ”
This decision comes just over 19 years after Pamela Richards’ murder.
Get complete stories every day with the "exactly as printed" Daily Press E-edition, only $5 per month! Click here to try it free for 7 days. To subscribe to the Daily Press in print or online, call (760) 241-7755, (800) 553-2006 or click here.