Lanie Tyrone Richardson pleaded not guilty Thursday to second degree murder and gross vehicular manslaughter charges. His bail is set at $1 million.
Richardson, according to authorities, was driving drunk while two women were “car surfing,” riding on the hood and front windshield of the car as it headed down East Valley Road early in the morning of June 13. Both women were ejected from the vehicle — one sustained major injuries, the other, 26-year-old Allison Meadows, died.
Initially reported as a Good Samaritan who came upon the injured women and drove them to Cottage Hospital, CHP officers later said that 28-year-old Richardson, a passenger, and the injured victim collaborated a plan “to fool law enforcement of the actual incident that occurred. Upon arrival to the hospital, Richardson gave misleading information to law enforcement regarding the incident,” according to documents filed with the court. Witness statements and surveillance video identified Richardson as the driver, the CHP report stated.
To secure a second degree murder conviction, prosecutor Von Nguyen must prove that Richardson acted with a wanton disregard for human life, and that the disregard resulted in the victim’s death. In addition to the most serious charges — second degree murder comes with a potential prison sentence of 15 years to life — Richardson also faces a charge of driving under the influence and causing injury, and driving on a suspended license. He pleaded not guilty to all allegations.
After Thursday’s hearing, Richardson’s attorney Rafael Amezaga said his client is “befuddled as to the DUI charge,” claiming it was made well after the incident and that no alcohol was found in Richardson’s system at the time of his arrest. Amezaga, a public defender, said Richardson is “remorseful” and that “there was no intent for any harm to come to anyone.”
“These are young kids watching too much TV and making bad decisions,” he went on, invoking the car-surfing scene in 1985’s Teen Wolf and stating there are 50-60 deaths related to car-surfing in the U.S. every year. Amezaga said Richardson “can’t believe he’s being charge with murder for what was simply a tragic accident.”
This isn’t the first time Richardson has been in trouble with the law. In 2003, police pulled him over for driving at night without headlights. He was eventually charged with possession of cocaine for sale, transporting a controlled substance, and driving without a license. According to authorities, Richardson had under his seat a bag with seven grams of rock cocaine, two straws, two razor blades, pills, and a scale. He pleaded no contest to all three charges and was placed on probation with a suspended prison sentence.
In 2005, he violated that probation when he was arrested for statutory rape. The minor was 14 at the time. According to police, two girls from Thousand Oaks were reported missing, and were later found at the Greyhound depot in Santa Barbara. It was determined they had developed a relationship with two men, including Richardson and, coincidentally, the same man who was a passenger in the vehicle from the 2003 incident. One of the girls told police she and Richardson had sex about 10 times, and had participated in a series of other sexual acts. He also gave her alcohol at one point, she said, and took her to a party at a hotel where a woman allegedly offered her methamphetamine.
In speaking with police, Richardson “offered a brief and somewhat abbreviated comment about not knowing how old [the victim] was,” according to a police narrative. Richardson pleaded no contest to having unlawful sex with a minor and was sentenced to four years in prison.
In 2008, Richardson was charged with DUI and pleaded to a wet reckless charge. In 2009, he received an infraction for an open container at State and Ortega Streets. In November 2010 he was charged with his second DUI, and a few months after that he was charged with his third. He pleaded no contest to DUI in the first case, and to reckless driving in the second and was sentenced to 160 days in county jail.
Richardson will be back in court on July 12.