Bowie Man Pleads Guilty To Murder

James Don Richardson, 39, was scheduled to go to trial Tuesday on drug and murder charges. Instead Richardson opted for a plea deal with prosecutors.

On May 18, 2008, Richardson shot Alfred Howard, 33, in his home on the 900 block of Applegate Road. Officers and EMS went to his house on what was originally an accidental shooting call. Police reported Howard was suffering from two gunshot wounds to his head. He later died at a Dallas hospital.

Richardson was indicted by the grand jury and arrested in December 2009 for murder.

While officers searched Richardson's home during the murder investigation they found items used to manufacture methamphetamine. Richardson was then charged with manufacture of a controlled substance over four under 200 grams, a first degree felony. Richardson was already facing a separate manufacturing charge from January 2009, when officers found lab components and 1,000 grams of meth in powder and liquid form at his house. These two drug charges were added along with the murder charge.

District Attorney Jack McGaughey said Richardson will serve 25 years in prison on the murder charge. Due to the deadly weapon enhancement, Richardson will have to serve at least half the sentence before he can be considered for parole. Richardson is also ordered to serve 40 years on each drug charge.

All sentences will run concurrent.

McGaughey said the plea offer was made in light of the circumstances of the murder case, which was based in part on information from people with similar criminal backgrounds.

"All the evidence was there, but there was the credibility of the witnesses. We felt 25 years in the murder case was in the range we could expect from a jury. On the drug cases, this was a way to avoid multiple trials with multiple sentences. The drug cases were the strongest and what we planned to go with," explained McGaughey.