AZ child abuser found competent for sentencing

Posted at 2:36 PM, Mar 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-05 12:30:17-05

A judge ruled Friday that convicted child abuser Fernando Richter was competent to continue with his sentencing.

But before he could do that, Richter made yet another unexpected statement. 

"Your honor, can I please suggest that I need a better attorney than him right now," said Richter in court. "He's reading a letter and he was grinding his teeth. He's all 'why you doing this, why you doing that.'"

The judge ultimately denied that request. 

Both Fernando and Sophia Richter were supposed to be sentenced February 29 but the judge ordered additional testing on Fernando after he expressed in the courtroom that he didn't understand what was going on and didn't remember the trial. 

This is an unusual set of circumstances according to several court staff members who say they've never seen something like this happen where a defendant gets to the sentencing phase and then says they don't remember the trial.

The judge read from the psychologists report that said Fernando Richter tried to "malinger deficits" but "nevertheless demonstrated the ability to understand the nature and the objectives of the proceeding against him."

This report included a review of more than nine hours of video and telephone surveillance on Fernando Richter at the Pima County Jail. On one occasion, the judge says Richter used another inmates ID number to make a phone call from the jail. 

A jury found the Richters guilty on 14 charges including child abuse and kidnapping for imprisoning Sophia Richter's three daughters. 

In November 2013, two of Sophia Richter’s three daughters climbed out a window of a home in midtown Tucson. They ran to a neighbor's home at about 4 a.m. and said they had been held in the house, forbidden to step out of their rooms without permission.

They said they were watched on video cameras and had to signal for permission to leave their rooms to use the bathroom. They said if permission didn’t come in time, they relieved themselves in their closets.

The daughters also testified that they were fed an inedible mixture of pasta and scraps.

The judge confirmed the new sentencing date of March 10 for both Fernando and Sophia Richter. 






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