By Matt Ward
Police tossing the jail cell of a man accused of manslaughter found a homemade plastic handcuff key in his mouth Sunday night, a day before he was to be sentenced.
The alarming discovery occurred during a routine search of a jail cell occupied by Richard McFadden, a co-conspirator in the July 15, 2010 shooting death of Devine Robinson, 21.
McFadden spent 963 days in the county jail awaiting sentencing on a charge of manslaughter with a deadly weapon, a category B felony. He had his day in court Monday and the handcuff key, which police sources say was functional, figured prominently in the court hearing.
“It was brought to my attention this morning that our detention center staff conducted a shakedown of the jail cell that houses the defendant as well as other defendants.
“During the shakedown, several items of contraband were found inside the cell, which we’ve provided photos to you,” Deputy District Attorney Tierra Jones told the court.
“The important thing the state wants the court to know is that the defendant was found in possession of a plastic handcuff key, a handmade handcuff key that he had made himself. The detention staff did test it out and it does open a set of handcuffs.”
Sources tell the Pahrump Valley Times that alongside the handcuff key a pair of brass knuckles was also found in McFadden’s possession.
Patty Erickson, McFadden’s attorney, asked District Court Judge Robert Lane to withhold judgment regarding the handcuff key, arguing that aside from a previous felony drug conviction her client had a relatively clean record and deserved the minimum sentence for his role in Robinson’s death.
“That’s why this case was negotiated the way it was. The state had some issues and we had some defenses,” she said.
Later, she added, “I understand the court may consider the fact that there is a handcuff key … All I can say is that I hope the court doesn’t give it too much consideration because I can’t defend against it. I haven’t seen a report, I don’t know when this happened.”
Lane said he’d treat it as an unproven allegation, but that was before hearing more from Jones, who blistered McFadden for his involvement in Robinson’s death.
She told the court how McFadden had conspired with the victim to rob a man named Clinton Snider. Unbeknownst to Robinson, however, McFadden double-crossed the victim and alerted Snider to the pending robbery. When Robinson and McFadden showed up at Snider’s West Street trailer home, a shoot-out between Robinson and Snider took place. McFadden fled the scene. Wounded, Robinson also attempted to flee, but instead was left to die on a nearby sidewalk.
Jones described the heartless scene for the court.
“When this shoot-out took place in Clinton Snider’s bedroom, Mr. McFadden was the only person who got up and walked out of that house. Judge, he got up, he walked out of this trailer … he gets in his car. The victim, Devine Robinson, stumbles out of the house, having been shot already, falls on the front end of the defendant’s car, begging him to help him, and Mr. McFadden puts his car in reverse and drives away and goes home. He leaves him on the sidewalk to die.”
Jones added that McFadden drove home where he and his mother cleaned Robinson’s blood off the front of the car.
Robinson’s mother, Becky Scholz, and his fiance, Kim Morris, gave testimony in court about what Robinson’s death has done to their lives.
“This has devastated our family immensely,” Scholz cried. “We’ll never get to hear his voice. We’ll never get to hear him laugh. He was only 21 years old … they never showed any remorse for what they’ve done.”
Morris told the court how since Robinson’s death she’s struggled with heroin addiction, hoping her life could end, despite having a young son to raise.
After the two women spoke, Jones revisited the handcuff key incident.
The prosecutor took exception with Erickson’s characterization that the discovery of the key in McFadden’s mouth was merely an allegation.
“I think it’s a hard allegation to overcome when something is found in your mouth. I think it’s hard to say that’s not yours. And he has a handcuff key in his mouth and the sergeants test it out and it will open handcuffs. I think that’s a direct indication that no matter what you do here today, Mr. McFadden intends to continue his criminal behavior. He’s continuing his criminal behavior inside of our detention facility!” Jones exclaimed.
After weighing the arguments, Lane turned to McFadden and asked him if he knew what a “psychopath” was.
“Do you think you might be a psychopath?” the judge asked.
McFadden answered meekly, “no.”
Lane then gave McFadden the maximum sentence, four to 10 years for the manslaughter as well as another four to 10 years for being involved in a gun crime, both sentences to run one after the other.
The young defendant, only 19 at the time of Robinson’s death, was given 963 days credit for time served. It was not clear whether he would face new charges for the handcuff key and other contraband.