Convicted Cedar Rapids girl describes "isolation" of being in jail to court

Girl, 16, seeking placement in juvenile detention center pending sentencing

Trish Mehaffey
Published: March 7 2014 | 4:28 pm - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 9:18 am in

A 16-year-old Cedar Rapids girl convicted of second-degree murder told a judge Friday she has no communication or physical contact with anyone, except her lawyers, and doesn't have access to education, outside of a few "old" books at the Jones County Jail.

Daimonay Richardson, who is seven months pregnant and being held at the jail pending sentencing set in May, remains in a four person cell by herself all day long. She is given a "game box" each day which contains chess, checkers, a dictionary, cards and a television remote. She can't play any of the games by herself, except solitaire, which she plays all day, and also watches television.

Richardson said she can go to the "recreation room" for exercise but there is no workout equipment.

"It's a room with phones and stools for (visitors)," Richardson said. "There's a stack of beds in there. I can walk around in a circle."

Her attorneys argued that Richardson has been in "solitary confinement" for 128 days and it will be 212 days by her sentencing set May 30. They contend this confinement in "isolation" is cruel and unusual, violating her constitutional and statutory rights. She isn't getting regular medical care regarding her pregnancy, and they ask that she be moved to the Central Iowa Juvenile Detention Center in Eldora. The Eldora center is willing to hold her.

Richardson faces up to 50 years in prison, possibly fewer because of her age, for her role in killing Ronald Kunkle, 22, who was stabbed 30 times at his residence May 18, 2013, according court documents. Richardson admitted she and her boyfriend, D Anthony Curd, 19, armed themselves with steak knives and planned to rob and kill Kunkle.

According to law, a juvenile being held in a jail can't be in "sight or sound" of adult inmates and she is the only juvenile at the jail. All Linn County and Johnson County youth waived into adult court are sent to nearby jails because they canít meet the sight and sound requirement. Linn County Juvenile Detention Center won't take Richardson because it's against the policy to hold youth charged with first-degree murder, which was Richardson's original charge.

Richardson testified she would like to continue education. She received A's and B's in her school work while she was held for three months in the juvenile detention center, before being waived into adult court.

Richardson said she didn't even have much contact with the jailers. Her cell has a solid blue door with a hatch, big enough to slide a plate of food or other items through. She said they only exchange greetings with her but there is no conversation.

Richardson said she can also hear other inmates. She described adult inmates she had seen and said one time she heard a woman screaming all night. She said the inmates in the next cell could hear her if she talked to them.

Linn County Sheriff's Capt. Pete Wilson, jail administrator, testified they had no problems with Jones County keeping juveniles in the past. Jones has passed jail inspections to house youth.

Wilson said Richardson was in a cell 12 x16 feet by herself and had her own phone, television, toilet and shower. The jail meets the sight and sound requirement, except when inmates are moved around.

Wilson said Jones officials also offered her a GED work book and she turned down going to the recreation room.

Rachel Antonuccio, Richardson's attorney, asked Wilson if he knew she wasn't given a key for the GED book, so it didn't explain anything and she didn't know if her answers were correct, and if he had seen the recreation room at Jones.

Wilson said no to both.

Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden argued Richardson had been given all the amenities and privileges of other inmates. He said it wasn't unusual for someone who has been convicted of a crime to be under restrictions and lose some freedoms.

Vander Sanden said Richardson was being kept separate from the adult inmates.

"The code doesn't require for her to have a cellmate or ....companionship," Vander Sanden said.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Mary Chicchelly said she would take the motion under advisement and file her written ruling within the week.

 

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