A man accused of fatally shooting a friend in February and dumping the corpse near the New Orleans Police Department headquarters has been found incompetent to stand trial in a related prosecution in Jefferson Parish.
Alvin Richardson, a 48-year-old with a history of mental illness, has been committed to the Eastern Louisiana Mental Health System, a psychiatric hospital in Jackson that seeks to rehabilitate criminal defendants deemed incapable of comprehending their court proceedings.
Richardson, who spent several months at the same East Feliciana Parish facility in 1991 after shooting a New Orleans police officer, has been implicated in a brazen shooting spree in Mid-City in which, according to authorities, he fatally shot Barry Blackwell, dumped the body in the middle of South Broad Street, shot and wounded a bystander outside the courthouse and opened fire on a third victim blocks away.
The chaotic scene unfolded near a busy intersection on a Friday afternoon and contributed to the growing sense, amid an increase in murders this year, that violent crime has become a crisis in New Orleans.
While the slaying happened right outside the Police Department, Richardson was not taken into custody until the day after the Feb. 27 shooting when he placed a panicked call to Gretna police from a pay phone outside a West Bank drug store.
He told authorities at the time that he had been convinced someone was stalking him outside of a hotel room. He acknowledged being on the South Broad Street overpass the day of Blackwell’s death but denied involvement in the killing, Gretna police said at the time.
Jefferson Parish authorities charged Richardson, a convicted felon, with possessing a .40-caliber gun. He’s been barred from carrying a firearm since pleading guilty to a 1989 incident in which he pointed a gun at a pedestrian in the Bywater and, while fleeing in a stolen car, opened fire on a rookie police officer. The officer survived the assault but was shot in the chest, according to news accounts at the time.
Richardson was similarly deemed unfit to stand trial in that case; he reported hearing voices in his head ordering him to commit murder. After being rehabilitated, however, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in state prison.
In the most recent case, Richardson’s defense attorney this summer expressed renewed concern over Richardson’s mental health, telling a Jefferson Parish judge that he seemed “delusional” during an interview at the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center.
“He has had mental health treatment in the past,” the defense attorney, Marquita Naquin, wrote in a court filing, “and both his demeanor and communications with counsel suggest that he may not be able to assist in his defense.”
Two court-appointed doctors agreed after evaluating Richardson, and Judge Scott Schlegel ordered the man committed indefinitely to the state psychiatric hospital.
Richardson has not yet been charged in Blackwell’s death in New Orleans.
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