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Man gets 190 years for murdering 3 on East Lewis Street during drug robbery

Artavius G. Richards
Artavius G. Richards
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Monday, March 06, 2017 10:39 am
A man convicted last month of killing three men execution-style during a drug robbery in February 2016 on East Lewis Street was sentenced to 190 years in prison. Artavius G. Richards, 20, received 60 years apiece for each of the murders, plus 10 years for use of a firearm enhancement, all to be served consecutively, or one term after the other, Monday in Allen Superior Court.

Richards was convicted last month after a hung jury last November forced a second trial. Richard was found guilty of three counts of murder and felony use of a firearm during a drug robbery gone awry Feb. 24 at 808 E. Lewis St. 

Adam Mekki, 20, Muhannad Tairab, 17, and Mohamedtaha Omar, 23, were shot multiple times in the head execution-style.

While defense attorney Michelle Kraus felt Richards should get 50 years for each murder and six years for the firearms enhancement, Allen Superior Court Judge John Surbeck compromised. 

No one testified on either side, but Deputy Prosecutor for the Allen County Prosecutor's Office Jeffrey Stineburg said, "The victims' families have a deep appreciation for the manner in which the criminal justice system worked in this instance."

"This is a horrendous crime that took place in our community," Steve Godfrey, chief counsel for the Allen County Prosecutor's Office, said during the hearing. "Handguns are ripping this community apart, especially in southeast Fort Wayne."

Citing Richards' lengthy criminal history, including two counts of carrying a handgun, battery and resisting law enforcement, played a factor in Surbeck's sentencing. 

"Three boys were executed in order for the defendant to protect himself," Surbeck said. "I truly find that offensive." 

Adam Mekki's father, Kamal Kuku, said of Richards after the hearing, "He's dead, too. He's dead. He's gone. I'm so happy."  

"God is always there for us," said Mekki's mother, Hawtai Mekki.

"Justice was served for all three families," Godfrey said. "The FBI added more to what we had, and we worked harder the second time (trial). We had a lot of support in this case. A citizen came forward with information... If they don't come forward, we don't have a case." 

Another man implicated in the robbery-murder, Darrell L. McDaniel, 19, of the 1200 block of Francis St., pleaded guilty prior to Richards' sentencing hearing. He faces no more than 20 years of executed time for robbery, a Level 2 felony.

Richards has 177 days jail credit, and said he plans to appeal the conviction.


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