N-word use during jail call part of complaint against judge
Prosecutors dismissed a murder case because the key witness was shot to death during an attempted armed robbery in north St. Louis.
Jarrett Richardson, 20, of Cahokia, was that key witness. Richardson also was the inmate whose taped telephone call with then-criminal defense lawyer now judge Ron Duebbert spurred a Judicial Inquiry Board complaint.
Richardson was a witness in the prosecutions case against Ramone Parker, who was accused of the shooting death of Lamondo Brown. Brown, the father of two, was found shot to death at the corner of Williams and Ellen Street in Cahokia on May 26, 2016.
“Without the testimony of witness Jarrett Richardson, we ethically do not have sufficient evidence to go forward with the prosecution of Ramone Parker at this time,” said St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly. “The death of Mr. Richardson by itself is a loss and a tragedy. The death of Lamondo Brown was a tragedy compounded now by our inability to seek justice for him. Whether the deceased were saints or sinners doesn’t matter to the police or prosecutors pursuing justice, because any violent death demeans the value of every life. These aren’t just stats or numbers.”
Richardson was shot last month when he entered a home in the 1800 block of Cass Avenue in St. Louis. Police said Richardson broke into an apartment and attempted to rob its three occupants: two 21-year-old women and a 24-year-old man. One of the women grabbed her gun and started shooting at the suspects, striking and killing Richardson.
In May 2015, Duebbert was talking to Richardson, who was in the county jail facing a gun charge. On the audio clip, Duebbert, who never became Richardson’s lawyer, is heard discounting the merits of the charge against Richardson.
“Just keep your mouth shut. I think it’s a bullshit charge unless they can find your fingerprints on it or they got video of you throwing it away. At any rate, I will talk to your momma about it,” Duebbert said. “If there’s no gun on you, they are going to have to have some additional information. They are hoping that you will plead guilty. It’s just another little nigga’ bites the dust. Don’t talk.”
Richardson pleaded guilty to the gun charge and was sentenced to two years in prison.
Duebbert came under scrutiny in December, just after he defeated former Chief Judge John Baricevic at the polls in November. David E. Fields, a man who was on parole for an attack on a pregnant student at Belleville East High School, listed his address in parole documents as the same address for Duebbert’s residence, on Powder Mill Road near Belleville.
At that time, Duebbert told the BND he was trying to help Fields and was “being Christian” by opening his home to Fields.
Fields was later charged with murder in the shooting death of Carl Z. Silas, 28. Silas was shot about 5 a.m. Dec. 30 in the bedroom of 2813 West Boulevard near Belleville. He was shot twice in the head. Silas was sleeping with his two young children when police said that Fields entered the room and began shooting. Silas’ girlfriend, who is also Fields’ cousin, witnessed the shooting.
As part of the investigation, Major Case Squad investigators interviewed Duebbert, who later told the BND he knew absolutely nothing about Silas’ murder.
Kelly later filed the Judicial Inquiry Board complaint against Duebbert, stating Duebbert violated judicial canons by lying to police, talking to the press about an ongoing investigation and using a racial epithet during a jailhouse phone conversation. The BND obtained the audio recording of the phone call that was the basis of the racial epithet portion of the complaint under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.
During the call, “Day Day” is referenced. “Day Day” is Fields’ nickname.