RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Court of Appeals has denied the innocence petition of Terrence Richardson, one of the two men sentenced to life in prison in connection to the murder of a Virginia police officer in 1998 despite being found not guilty of the crime.
A three-judge panel of the state appeals court heard Richardson’s plea to be exonerated in the case in May. The court ruled in an opinion Tuesday that Richardson did not satisfy the requirements to be granted a petition for a writ of actual innocence.
Richardson and Ferrone Claiborne faced capital murder charges in 1999 in the shooting death of Waverly police officer Allen W. Gibson, taking plea deals for lesser charges after claiming they feared the death penalty.
Prosecutors brought them to federal court in 2001 on drug charges related to the case, where a judge took their guilty pleas in Sussex County Circuit Court into consideration when sentencing them to life. The jury had found them guilty of drug crimes but acquitted them in the murder of Gibson.
Jarrett Adams, the civil rights attorney representing Richardson and Claiborne, filed an innocence request in the Virginia Court of Appeals on behalf of Richardson, who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in state court.
On Tuesday, the state appeals court wrote in an opinion that “Richardson is simply ineligible for a writ of actual innocence and, therefore, hold that his petition must be dismissed.”
Adams filed a writ of actual innocence for Claiborne as well, but Claiborne pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in state court so his charges were not eligible for the petition.
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