Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hudson man acquitted of rape, kidnapping charges

Eric Richards, 42, left, shakes hands with his mother’s fiance, Bill Thomaston, after Richards was acquitted by a jury on charges of sexual battery, aggravated battery and kidnapping.

BRENDAN FITTERER | Times

Eric Richards, 42, left, shakes hands with his mother’s fiance, Bill Thomaston, after Richards was acquitted by a jury on charges of sexual battery, aggravated battery and kidnapping.

NEW PORT RICHEY — A jury of two women and four men deliberated for an hour Thursday before acquitting Eric Richards of Hudson of three counts of sexual battery with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery and kidnapping.

The jurors didn't know he'd previously been accused of a similar crime.

The trial lasted four days and much of the state's case relied on the testimony of the victim, an admitted prostitute and drug addict. The woman, who is not being named due to the nature of the allegations, told of a night in November of 2011 when Richards picked her up and took her to his home. He tied her up, raped and beat her, she testified. She ran nude to a nearby house after he fell asleep.

Richards, 42, took the stand in his defense. After the verdict, he said that decision may have tipped the scales in his favor.

"I believe that you can't win unless you go out there," he said. "You only win if you stand up for yourself."

The decision, he said, was a culmination of what he knew all along. He said he cooperated with authorities the whole time and he knew the case against him was weak.

One female juror in the trial said there simply wasn't enough evidence to convict Richards and put him away for the rest of his life.

"In my heart, did he do something to that girl? Absolutely," said the woman, who declined to give her full name. "To watch him walk out of there makes me sick to my stomach."

No DNA evidence was found linking Richards to the crime, and his attorney said the relationship between the two was a friendly one.

Richards was previously arrested on charges of battery in December of 2008. According to an arrest report, two Pasco sheriff's deputies in an unmarked car witnessed Richards and a woman arguing. He pushed her, the report said, and punched her in the face. She fell to the ground.

After his arrest, the report said, Richards told police the woman was walking down U.S. 19, and he picked her up. He said he punched her because she "continuously insulted him during the argument."

He was appointed a public defender and the case went to trial. A jury found him not guilty on Sept. 22, 2009.

"Justice was served," his mother, Eunice Tatum said after Thursday's verdict. "He has been exonerated."

Hudson man acquitted of rape, kidnapping charges 06/27/13 [Last modified: Thursday, June 27, 2013 8:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Gregg Allman of The Allman Brothers Band dies at age 69

    Music & Concerts

    SAVANNAH, Ga. — Music legend Gregg Allman, whose bluesy vocals and soulful touch on the Hammond B-3 organ helped propel the Allman Brothers Band to superstardom and spawn Southern rock, died Saturday, a publicist said. He was 69.

    This Oct. 13, 2011 file photo shows Gregg Allman performs at the Americana Music Association awards show in Nashville, Tenn. On Saturday, May 27, 2017, a publicist said the musician, the singer for The Allman Brothers Band, has died. (AP Photo/Joe Howell, File)
  2. Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning, a former senator, dies at 85

    Ml

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jim Bunning, a former Hall of Fame pitcher who went on to serve in Congress, has died. He was 85.

    In this June 21, 1964 file photo, Jim Bunning of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches a perfect game against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium in New York.  The Phillies beat the Mets, 6-0.  Bunning retired all 27 batters who faced him in the first game of a doubleheader to become the first pitcher in 42 years with a perfect game in regular season play.   (AP Photo/File)
  3. Trump to decide next week whether to quit Paris climate agreement

    Environment

    TAORMINA, Italy —President Donald Trump declined to endorse the Paris climate accords on Saturday, saying he would decide in the coming days whether the United States would pull out of the 195-nation agreement.

    President Donald Trump, right, arrives to a G7 session with outreach countries in Taormina, Italy, on Saturday. Climate and trade were sticking points at the two-day summit in Taormina, Sicily. (AP Photo/Salvatore Cavalli)
  4. Gregg Allman dies at age 69

    Blogs

    From our friends at the Associated Press:

    Singer/Songwriter Gregg Allman performs during the 2010 BamaJam Music & Arts Festival at the corner of Hwy 167 and County Road 156 on June 5, 2010.
  5. Suspect arrested in fatal shooting of Virginia special agent

    Crime

    RICHMOND, Va. — A Virginia State Police special agent died Saturday after being shot by a man sitting in a car in Richmond, police said. The shooting suspect fled on foot, sparking an overnight manhunt that ended with the man's arrest about an hour after the agent's death.

    This image provided by the Virginia State Police shows law enforcement investigating the scene of a shooting early Saturday in Richmond, Va.   Special Agent Michael T. Walter, a Virginia State Police special agent died Saturday after being shot by a man sitting in a car in Richmond, police said. The shooting suspect fled on foot, sparking an overnight manhunt that ended with the man's arrest about an hour after the agent's death. Virginia State Police said in an emailed statement that Travis A. Ball of Richmond is being held without bond on charges that include malicious wounding and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. (Virginia State Police via AP)