Judge decides inmate's chilling interview is admissible

A judge has decided that a chilling interview of a prison inmate, who boasts of killing his cellmate and vows to kill again, can be used against him in an upcoming federal death-penalty trial.

Senior U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper reversed a ruling by a magistrate judge who recommended the interview with inmate Brian Richardson be suppressed. During the interview with federal agents and prosecutors, Richardson boasts about how he stabbed and strangled his cellmate, Steven Obara, at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta because Obara was a pedophile.

At issue was whether agents should have halted the April 2008 interview at the outset when Richardson said, "I wanna talk to you about how to get a lawyer." Cooper, in an order signed April 15, found the comment "did not rise to the level of a clear, unequivocal, actual request for counsel to assist him in dealing with custodial interrogation."

Richardson, serving time for bank robbery, is charged with stabbing and strangling Obara in July 2007. Obara, of Madison, Conn., was serving a 10-year federal sentence for possessing child pornography and had pleaded guilty to sexual assault in state court.

During the interview, Richardson lamented over conditions in the federal prison system and said he hoped Obara's killing would land him on death row or in the maximum security prison known as Supermax in Florence, Colo.

If not, he said coldly, he would kill again -- a fellow inmate or a guard. "Somebody else is gonna get skinned up bad, " Richardson said. "First chance I get, I'm gonna kill somebody else. I promise you that."