Public Safety

Sister of murdered Cedar Rapids teen said his death 'broke my heart'

Where to send Robert Humbles remains in question

Liz Martin/The Gazette

Robert Humbles, 14, talks with attorneys in November during his initial appearance in Linn County District Court in Cedar Rapids. Humbles was back in court Friday, where he heard victim impact statements from the family of Aaron Richardson, the 15-year-old Humbles shot and killed last September. The court is currently studying options for Humbles’ placement, in either a residential treatment facility or a more structured facility, until he turns 18.
Liz Martin/The Gazette Robert Humbles, 14, talks with attorneys in November during his initial appearance in Linn County District Court in Cedar Rapids. Humbles was back in court Friday, where he heard victim impact statements from the family of Aaron Richardson, the 15-year-old Humbles shot and killed last September. The court is currently studying options for Humbles’ placement, in either a residential treatment facility or a more structured facility, until he turns 18.
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CEDAR RAPIDS — A grieving mother said Friday she has to live every day with “pain in my heart,” knowing she will never again hear her son say, “Mommy, I love you.”

“Every day, my children have to wipe my tears. ... I only have memories,” Loise White, mother of 15-year-old Aaron Richardson, who was fatally shot last September, said in a victim’s impact statement she read in Linn County District Court.

Richardson’s 9-year-old sister, Carmen Clark, said in a statement read by a victim’s advocate that she thought Robert Humbles, who shot and killed her 15-year-old brother, should stay in jail. “I didn’t want to see him in the casket,” her statement read. “But I had to touch him. ... It broke my heart.”

The child planned to read the statement in court herself but couldn’t stop crying.

Robert Humbles, 14, originally charged with first-degree murder in Richardson’s death, pleaded last December to voluntary manslaughter, reckless use of a firearm resulting in serious injury and going armed with intent. Humbles admitted during the plea hearing to shooting and killing Richardson in the 300 block of 16th Avenue SE on Sept. 6 after two rival groups had exchanged threats through text messages and on Facebook.

Assistant Linn County Attorney Nic Scott said last month that Humbles fired his gun multiple times. Richardson was struck once in the abdomen and died after surgery.

Humbles faces 25 years in prison but, according to the plea agreement, he is being prosecuted as a youthful offender, which means he will be placed in a youth residential treatment center or more restrictive facility, such as the Eldora State Training School for Boys, until he turns 18.

At age 18, Humbles will go back to adult court, where a judge could release him, give him probation or order him to serve the remainder of his sentence in prison.

Humbles, in a statement read by his lawyer, Johnson County Chief Public Defender Peter Persaud, said he “regrets events of that night and wished I could take it back.” He said he will do his best to be “a better man.”

Sixth Judicial Associate District Judge Jane Spande will have another hearing in a few weeks, allowing the defense more time to explore placement options for Humbles, who was a student at Kennedy High School.

Johnson County Chief Public Defender Peter Persaud said the Rabiner Treatment Center in Fort Dodge, a residential youth facility, had accepted Humbles. But officials at the center, testifying by phone on Friday, said they had reconsidered and were denying his application after receiving a report from juvenile court officers.

Brenda Payne, an Iowa City child psychologist, testified Humbles had learning and developmental issues and scored below average on the majority of tests she gave him. She diagnosed him with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and, after being on medication, he did score higher but remained below average to average.

Payne recommended sending Humbles to a residential treatment facility instead of the boys training school because it could provide the treatment and therapy Humbles needs.

The judge asked if Payne would agree that Humbles would benefit from a structured environment in a secure setting, saying she was concerned about his “posturing” and problems with authority figures.

Payne agreed, but said Humbles had been respectful toward her during their three meetings.

Families of both Richardson and Humbles attended the three-hour hearing on Friday.

After the hearing, Richardson’s mother said in another statement that Humbles deserves to be punished, regardless of his age, mental status or race.

“Aaron won’t get a chance to go to school or grow up, so why should Robert?” White said. “He took a life. This is a very serious crime that should not be taken lightly, and he shouldn’t go to a residential facility.”

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