Jun. 25—A Vigo County man convicted of voluntary manslaughter has received a 17 1/2 year prison sentence in connection with the 2018 stabbing death of Bradley Lawson in southern Vigo County.
Ashley Alan Richey, 38, said during a sentencing hearing Friday in Vigo Superior Court 6 he is sorry Lawson died, but claimed self-defense for his actions. It was a defense the jury rejected when it convicted Richey of voluntary manslaughter and aggravated battery.
Richey acknowledged years of mental health issues and crises that resulted in repeated hospitalizations, medication and therapy since childhood. He also claimed many of his violent actions through the years were prompted by the carelessness of other people, resulting in his arrests.
In fact, Richey was participating in the court's adult mental health program at the time of Lawson's death.
Richey's mental health and violent history prompted Brenda Olivera, mother of Brad Lawson, to ask for a prison sentence for Richey.
"There's really no reason for the attack, and I feel that given the chance, you would hurt or kill someone else," Olivera said. "I don't think you can be trusted in society."
Lawson's father became outspoken during the sentencing hearing and voluntarily left the courtroom midway through the proceeding, claiming Richey was making false statements.
During Richey's trial, the jury heard that Lawson was caretaker of a house at Blackhawk where Richey resided with other tenants. Witnesses said Richey was making threatening statements about Lawson prior to the confrontation in which Lawson was stabbed in the chest.
During Friday's hearing, Judge Michael Lewis heard from defense witness Dr. Jean Kristeller, a psychologist who was Richey's primary therapist periodically for more than three years.
She said Richey was on the schizophrenia spectrum and had anxiety and depression. He was highly intelligent, she said, but needs a structured living environment with supervision.
Vigil Macke, a licensed social worker and addictions counselor who previously worked for Hamilton Center and is now employed by the county court system, said he diagnosed Richey with bipolar disorder during an assessment at the jail.
Macke said Richey would not qualify for a group home placement due to the violent nature of his conviction, and prison was the only placement for him.
Richey faced up to 30 years in prison for the Level 2 felony conviction on voluntary manslaughter. The advisory sentence per state sentencing guidelines was 17 1/2 years.
Defense attorney Matthew Daley requested placement in a structured environment that included mental health treatment and supervision, noting Richey has been in jail since the July 12, 2018, incident.
Chief Deputy Prosecutor Rob Roberts asked for a 20-year prison sentence, noting the increasingly violent nature of Richey's offenses over time.
Judge Lewis said he considered Richey's history of mental illness and noted the increasingly violent nature of Richey's offenses. The judge recommended mental health treatment in the Indiana Department of Correction.
"You don't accept responsibility for anything, and you have an excuse for everything," Lewis told the defendant.
Richey said he will appeal his conviction and his sentencing.
Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at TribStarLisa.