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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

More Bones Added to Mitrice Richardson’s Remains that Were Exhumed on Wednesday

• Attorneys for Los Angeles County Seek All Records of Family Friend’s Communications with the Press, Public Agencies and Long List of Individuals Dating Back to the Year Before Woman Went Missing

BY ANNE SOBLE

Members of Mitrice Richardson’s family looked on as the exhumation of the dead woman’s remains took place Wednesday, July 13, at 8 a.m. at the Inglewood Park Cemetery where she was interred last year.
The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office oversaw raising the white and gold coffin that holds most of the skeletal remains of the 24-year-old honors college graduate and aspiring psychologist whose cause of death remains undetermined.
Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department deputies took Richardson into custody in Malibu on the evening of Sept. 16, 2009, for allegedly being unable to pay an $89 dinner tab. Witnesses described the young woman’s behavior as bizarre and disoriented, and said that she was speaking gibberish.
Richardson was transported to the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station, where she was booked, and then was released several hours later, just after midnight on Sept. 17, 2009, without her purse, credit cards or cell phone, which were left locked inside her impounded vehicle.
The first discovery of skeletal remains occurred 11 months later in rugged Malibu Canyon backcountry about seven miles from the Lost Hills Station.
Eight additional bones were found in February and one several weeks before that DNA testing confirmed are Richardson’s.
There is no headstone at the dead woman’s grave-site. Richardson’s mother, Latice Sutton, told the Malibu Surfside News she is waiting for the return of the additional bones, and she said she will bury everything together after forensic analysis is complete.
Family members also indicated that the clothing worn by Richardson when she was released from Lost Hills, which was found intact and scattered a distance from her naked remains, will be turned over to the coroner’s office for testing on Friday.
This is first analysis of the clothing about which Sutton maintains that no law enforcement personnel expressed interest in doing lab work and appeared to have no interest in where the garments were located.
LEGAL SCHEDULE
Department 78 of Los Angeles Superior Court, presided over by Judge William Fahey, confirmed for The News this week the actions that are currently scheduled in the negligence and civil rights violations lawsuits filed separately by Richardson’s parents that are now consolidated into a single action.
On July 27, the defendants seek additional time to respond to three sets of written discovery, and on July 29, a motion to quash subpoenas by the plaintiffs will be heard.
On Aug. 8, the county’s attorneys will seek a motion for summary judgment in the hope of precluding the need for a final status conference on Aug. 29 that would precede the tentative jury trial date of Sept. 12.
POTENTIAL MEDIA
INFRINGEMENT
Los Angeles County’s contract law firm handling the Richardson case—Lawrence, Beach, Allen and Choi—is currently attempting to obtain all telephone, email and other types of communications to and from Dr. Ronda Hampton, a practicing psychologist and college faculty member who often serves as spokesperson for Richardson’s mother’s side of the family, and reporters at the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles community newspapers, and the Malibu Surfside News.
Hampton told The News on Monday that she has been given no explanation for why the county’s attorneys seek, not only this material, but also all communications to and from a lengthy list of other individuals and agencies, that date back to 2008, a year before Richardson disappeared. Hampton said a private attorney described the law firm’s maneuvers as “harassment” and a “fishing expedition.”
Efforts are currently underway to contact press freedom and protection experts to question the law firm’s moves to try to obtain material that can be viewed as the digital or electronic version of reporter note-taking that would come under the rubric of the First Amendment and journalist shield laws.

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