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Man sentenced to life in prison

August 14, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - If West Virginia had the death penalty, Kathleen Cressell said Friday afternoon that she would be more than happy to pull the switch for Miguel Delgado.

A jury found Delgado guilty last month of first-degree murder in the death of Cressell's daughter, 29-year-old Robyn Renee Richardson. Richardson was stabbed 23 times and strangled in June 2001.

Circuit Judge Christopher Wilkes upheld the jury's verdict that Delgado be sentenced to life in prison without mercy, meaning he never will be eligible for parole. Delgado stood and showed no visible reaction as the sentence was announced.

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After sitting in the witness stand, Cressell held up a photograph of her daughter, angling it to face Delgado. She said that photograph, not the bloody photographs of Richardson's body shown to jurors during the trial, represented Richardson as her family knew her.

"You showed her no mercy on that night and I'm sure her thoughts were of great fear and this state should show you no mercy," said Cressell, who added that she would gladly pull the switch on an electric chair.

"I hope you burn in hell," Cressell said as she ended her speech.

When Delgado was given a chance to speak he asked that his handcuffs be removed so he could gather his paperwork. Wilkes said the handcuffs would stay on.

"Despite what the jury came back with, I did not kill Robyn Richardson on June 15th or 16th or any night," Delgado said.

He then started to explain in detail the mistakes he believed his two court-appointed attorneys made during the trial. He said he wanted certain witnesses called, but that they were not, and that he wanted certain questions asked that were not.

Wilkes stopped him, saying such arguments need to be made during an appeal. He told Delgado to limit his remarks to issues affecting sentencing.

"I didn't kill Robyn Richardson and the state of West Virginia has done a huge mistake," Delgado then reiterated.

Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely responded that she respects a person's claims of innocence, but that a jury of 12 people heard the case and returned a guilty verdict.

The state's two main pieces of evidence were a statement by a woman living with Delgado at the time Richardson was murdered. That woman said that Delgado came home around 1 a.m. on June 16, claiming he had just killed a woman. She gave details of the killing that matched what police found at Richardson's apartment off Moler Avenue in Martinsburg.

The second piece of evidence was a small spot of blood found on the inside of Delgado's Chevrolet Blazer. DNA testing confirmed the blood was Richardson's.

Delgado's attorneys, Robert Barrat and Michael Santa Barbara, said that Delgado gave Richardson rides to work and that the blood could have come from a shaving nick or other similar wound.

Barrat started the sentencing hearing by asking for a new trial, requesting that mercy be granted and asking that Delgado undergo a psychological evaluation.

Wilkes denied all of the motions. Delgado said he did not want to have a psychological evaluation done, but did ask that a new attorney be appointed to handle his appeal. He said his attorneys don't seem to want to talk to him any longer.

Wilkes appointed an attorney from Charles Town, W.Va., to take over the case.

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