Attorneys argue juvenile's fate as she faces up to 50 years in prison

Judge says ruling will come in three or four weeks

Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden said Friday that 16-year-old Daimonay Richardson should be sentenced to up to 50 years in prison because Ronald Kunkle was killed in a “frenzied” stabbing attack.

“A young life has been taken and that loss of life is immeasurable,” Vander Sanden told a judge arguing for the maximum sentence. “This crime was shocking and horrific.”

He asked 6th Judicial District Judge Mary Chicchelly to consider the “degree and level of violence and brutality” used against the victim.

Dennis Cohen, Richardson’s attorney, said the offense was horrible but there are many mitigating circumstances cited by a forensic psychologist last week in Richardson’s life, which are factors that put her on the lower end of punishment.

Cohen cited several of those factors including abandonment by her alcoholic father, a sexual assault at 13, a learning disability, being the target of bullying, drug and alcohol abuse leading up to the crime and being taken away from her grandmother who was her “psychological mother.”

Cohen argued for a deferred sentence with probation or a suspended sentence with no mandatory time, little prison time and probation.

Chicchelly has discretion for less prison time because of Richardson’s age, in accordance with the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding life sentences for juveniles.

Chicchelly said she would make her ruling in three or four weeks.

Richardson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in February. She said during the plea that she, along with former boyfriend D Anthony Curd, 19, armed themselves with steak knives and planned to rob and kill Kunkle for money May 18, 2013.

As part of the plea deal, she must testify against Curd, charged with first-degree murder, at his trial.

Vander Sanden said the court should consider the nature and circumstances of the crime.

“She admitted she started the attack,” Vander Sanden said. “She plunged the knife into his neck ... in a frenzied attack.”

Vander Sanden said it wasn’t a “robbery gone bad.” Richardson was part of the conscious, deliberate decision to armed herself and kill Kunkle, he said. Kunkle was stabbed 39 times.

Richardson also helped conceal the crime by pouring bleach on Kunkle’s body, Vander Sanden said. Then, she and Curd used Kunkle’s EBT card at three convenience stores and attempted to use his financial information to gain credit, Vander Sanden said.

Vander Sanden asked the judge to consider the victim’s impact statements Kunkle’s parents submitted last week to the court, in which they talked about loss and sorrow.

Cohen said Richardson has taken responsibility for her crime — she confessed to police her part in it, he said. The police initially didn’t know she was involved, he said. They only thought she had information about the crime.

“D Anthony Curd was the main perpetator,” Cohen said. “She aided and abetted in the crime. He directed the crime.”

Cohen argued Richardson stabbed Kunkle three times, twice in the neck and once on his side. Kunkle, according to the medical examiner, had six fatal stab wounds — none inflicted by Richardson, he said.

Cohen urged the judge to consider the evaluation by Mark Cunningham, a clinical and forensic psychologist from Dallas, who testifed Richardson didn’t pose a risk of reoffending. Cunningham said she needed to be out of prison to receive proper rehabilitation, which includes substance abuse treatment, education, mentoring, parenting skills because she had a child while she was in custody, and mental health services.

“She is a good, decent human being at her core,” Cohen said. “She can become a productive person in society.”

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