Victim's family claps as accused murderer is arraigned
Family members of shooting victim Donna Richardson, appalled that she was apparently killed by a stray bullet while trying to enjoy a night out at the Mai Thai Restaurant and Bar six months ago, cheered and clapped after a judge set a high bond Tuesday for her accused killer.
David J. Grant, 33, a one-time Norwich resident, was arrested in Baltimore this week and extradited to Connecticut to face charges of murdering the 45-year-old Richardson and shooting her niece, 29-year-old Crystal Roderick, in the thigh on June 24. Grant was presented before Judge Kevin P. McMahon, who set his bond at $2.5 million and transferred the case to the court where major crimes are tried.
Grant, who is known as "D," has a glass eye as a result of being shot in the face on Talman Street in November 2010. He was attempting to shoot a man who had shot at a friend of his a year earlier, according to an arrest warrant affidavit prepared by Norwich police Detective Christopher Conley.
Richardson's family members, including the niece who was shot in the thigh and survived, applauded when they heard the high bond amount. Some left the courtroom crying.
Some of the family members had been asked to leave the courtroom earlier in the morning after causing a commotion. McMahon allowed them back in for Grant's arraignment but warned them, "You've got to keep your cool. No more blowing up like you did earlier."
Outside the courthouse after the arraignment, the family members said Grant had turned to them and uttered an apology as he was led back to the courthouse lockup, but that the apology did not make them feel better.
"Any coward can go into any restaurant and start shooting," said Steven Roderick, Richardson's partner of 11 years. He said family members had gathered at the Mai Thai for a birthday party that night and that he had left early after telling Richardson to call him when she got home.
"She never came home," he said, tears streaming down his face.
She died of a gunshot wound to the chest.
Crystal Roderick politely declined to be interviewed. According to the warrant affidavit, she told police she and her aunt were on the dance floor prior to the shooting and that she had walked to the outside deck to smoke a cigarette. She said she didn't know where Richardson went. She said she saw Grant, whom she knew as "D," seated on the deck's railing. She said she heard four shots and felt a burning sensation in her right leg.
She walked into the bar, where she saw Richardson on the floor, unresponsive and bleeding, according to the affidavit.
Several witnesses who knew Grant told police they saw Grant inside the bar before the shooting, according to the affidavit. They said they saw him shoot a gun as he stood in the parking lot of the bar, then "calmly" walk around the building, gun still in hand, and get into the passenger seat of a maroon car.
The person who drove Grant from the scene, identified only as "Witness #5" in the affidavit, said s/he drove Grant to Brooklyn, N.Y., after the shooting. The witness told investigators that Grant was attempting to shoot 31-year-old Isaiah Lee of Groton, whom the witness knew only as "Zay," because Lee had shot a friend of Grant's a year earlier. The witness said Grant took a phone call about 45 minutes into the drive to New York and said, after hanging up, "Yo, two innocent people got hit."
Lee, interviewed by police, said he was on the deck of the Mai Thai when the shooting occurred but did not know Grant or see who shot the gun.
About six hours after the shooting, the police recovered a .38 caliber Taurus handgun, stolen out of North Carolina, that had been recovered by a Mohegan tribal groundskeeper near the intersection of Mohegan Sun Boulevard and Route 2A. Two days later a citizen found a .38 caliber bullet near the parking lot of the American Legion at 457 Laurel Hill Ave. Crime squad detectives later recovered a .38-caliber shell casing from the same area.
Grant is charged with murder, first-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangerment, criminal possession of a pistol or revolver and two counts of violation of probation. His case has been transferred to the New London courthouse where major crimes are tried and continued to Jan. 7.
Also pending in that court is the case of Devan Jarmon, 24, of Norwich, who allegedly went to the front parking lot of the bar and fired one round from his 9 mm pistol into the air "in the chaos of the moment" after people came into the bar screaming that somebody had been shot on the bar's back deck.
Jarmon is charged with carrying a pistol without a permit, unlawful discharge of a firearm, criminal possession of a pistol or revolver and first-degree reckless endangerment.