Man draws 30-year prison sentence in robbery, police chase

John Thompson • Jul 19, 2013 at 2:24 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood sentenced Travis Grover Richardson, 31, to 30 years in prison as a career criminal Thursday.

The sentencing came following a jury trial in May that found Richardson guilty on all charges stemming from a robbery and pursuit that went through four police jurisdictions in three counties in 2011.

Richardson’s attorney, Jim Bowman, argued that Richardson had “made a string of terrible decisions” during the pursuit but had not injured anyone. Bowman said it began as an attempt to pass a counterfeit bill in the IGA grocery in Betsytown Shopping Center. He said Richardson’s actions had been attempts to get away.

He said even the jury found his actions were not as aggressive as the prosecution maintained, reducing a charge made in a confrontation with Elizabethton Policeman Matthew Taylor in the store parking lot from attempted second-degree murder to reckless endangerment.

Richardson also told the judge “I never attended to harm anyone.” He said he was unhappy with the state’s insistence on a long sentence, which he said was longer than ones give to murderers and “baby rapers.”

Assistant District Attorney Janet Vest Hardin said Richardson’s actions had endangered many “potential victims” as he sped a stolen car down two-lane highways past oncoming vehicles. Hardin had pointed out to the jury the many close calls shown on a pursuit vehicle’s video camera. Although some of Richardson’s burglary convictions were for crimes committed before he was an adult, Hardin said he has an extensive record and never had a long-term job and has served a 12-year sentence.

Blackwood ordered Richardson to serve a 30-year sentence on an aggravated robbery charge and lower sentences on the other seven charges, to be served concurrently. He was classified as a career offender.

Blackwood set another hearing Sept. 12 to hear some vandalism charges Richardson obtained while he was in jail awaiting the trial.

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