Richardson bill troubled in Senate as clock winds downby John Kennedy | May 2nd, 2014
After being recognized in the House and Senate — and drawing a standing ovation from House members — it was growing likely that James Richardson would return to Kansas without legislation to compensate him for being wrongfully imprisoned in Florida for more than two decades.
Richardson, 78, has come from Wichita in expectation of the bill passing. He was honored by the two chambers and sat most of Thursday in the Senate gallery awaiting a vote on SB 326. But increased wrangling in the Florida Senate over a range of issues pushed the Richardson legislation to the bottom of the calendar Friday, the session’s final day.
Richardson lived in Arcadia when a few days before Halloween 1967, he was accused of poisoning his children when they came home for lunch. He was quickly convicted and condemned to death.
But a 1989 investigation ordered by then-Gov. Bob Martinez revealed wholesale misconduct by investigators and prosecutors, leading to Richardson being set free. Still, because of the circumstances of his case, Richardson does not qualify for state payment under the state’s five-year-old wrongful incarceration law.
A similar bill (CS/HB 227) was approved earlier this month 116-0 by the House. It would make Richardson eligible for $1.2 million in compensation. But as the clock wound down on the 2014 session, the measure was languishing.