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Harvill Richardson, Sr.

Other Murder Exonerations Where No Crime Occurred
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On October 20, 2009, 66-year-old Harvill Richardson, Sr., called police in Biloxi, Mississippi and reported that he had shot 55-year-old Rudy Quilon. Richardson said that Quilon was threatening him and refused to stop advancing despite a warning shot fired into the ground.

Quilon died of a single bullet wound to the abdomen. The following day, Richardson was charged with murder.

Richardson went to trial in Harrison County Circuit Court in May 2011. His attorney, Michael Crosby, sought to introduce evidence that Quilon had a violent criminal history and that Richardson acted in self-defense.

Richardson contended that he had encountered Quilon about six months earlier after Quilon was released from prison and was homeless. Richardson offered Quilon a place to live while he was getting back on his feet.

But as time went by, according to Richardson, Quilon began to wear out his welcome. He bragged that he had been convicted of murder and other violent crimes and had been a gang member. While in prison, Quilon said he had killed a “snitch,” recounting how he had “taken care of it.”

Richardson said that he attempted to persuade Quilon to leave and offered him a car and money to pay rent. Quilon, however, refused to leave.

The situation reached a crescendo after Quilon began viewing pornography on Richardson’s computer and said he wanted to have sex with Richardson’s wife. Richardson ordered Quilon to get his property and leave. Quilon refused. Instead, he walked out of the back door of the house and went into a shed, which contained tools, including axes. Richardson said that Quilon emerged and headed back toward the house with a hand behind his back.

Richardson said he grabbed a pistol and ordered Quilon to stop, but he kept coming. Richardson fired a warning shot into the ground, but Quilon continued on, saying, “Don’t do that, I’ll take care of you.” Richardson then shot him.

Richardson called 911 and reported that he had shot Quilon in self-defense.

The defense argued that Quilon’s past criminal record and other bad acts were critical to the defense position that the shooting was justified by Quilon’s aggression.

But the trial judge refused to allow Richardson’s attorney to present the evidence of Quilon’s prior convictions. On May 26, 2011, the jury convicted Richardson of murder. He was sentenced to life in prison.

In 2014, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the conviction and ordered a new trial. The court ruled that the evidence of Quilon’s past and his claims of having committed murder and other violent crimes were “essential” to Richardson’s defense. Richardson was released on bond in October 2014.

In March 2017, Richardson went to trial a second time. On March 16, after a two-day trial during which Crosby presented the evidence that had been excluded from the first trial, the jury acquitted Richardson.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 4/5/2017
State:Mississippi
County:Harrison
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2009
Convicted:2011
Exonerated:2017
Sentence:Life
Race:Caucasian
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:66
Contributing Factors:
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No