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20-year sentence for defendant who 'gutted' man in motel parking lot
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20-year sentence for defendant who 'gutted' man in motel parking lot

CROWN POINT — A Lake Criminal Court judge sentenced a Gary man Tuesday to 20 years for stabbing a man to death following a dispute in 2018 at a Merrillville motel over money for a prostitute.

Laurence T. Richmond Jr., 35, was ordered to serve 15 years behind bars, four years in the Lake County Community Corrections alternative placement program and one year on probation.

With credit for time already served, Richmond has another 10 years left to serve in prison, Judge Natalie Bokota said.

Bokota said she believed Richmond felt remorse for killing 44-year-old Patrick Tangye Mbi on Feb. 6, 2018, but the brutality of the crime required a longer sentence.

Richmond pleaded guilty in May to a reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter and could have faced a sentence of up to 24 years in prison.

"You chased him down like a dog, and the attack was brutal," Bokota said.

Join Tristan DeFord, Jami Rieck, and Nancy Zakutanksky on a shift working for Superior Ambulance in Merrillville.

Lake County Deputy Prosecutor Douglas Shaw said Mbi was stabbed 13 times and had wounds to his head, face, shoulders, chest, back, flank, buttocks and left forearm.

The dispute was over about $100, Shaw said.

"Thirteen injuries, 13 stab wounds, over 100 bucks," he said. "That would be one wound for every 7 dollars and 69 cents."

Mbi was found eviscerated in the parking lot of a motel across the street from the Super 8 hotel in the 8200 block of Louisiana Street, where he planned to meet a prostitute.

When Mbi took off with the money, Richmond chased him down a hall, through a lobby, across a parking lot in a snowstorm into another parking lot.

Mbi didn't have a weapon when police found him "gutted" in a Motel 6 parking lot, Shaw said.

Shaw asked for a maximum sentence of 24 years, which would include a minimum of 10 years plus one year for every stab wound, he said.

Defense attorney Angela Jones said Richmond, a father of four children, already has spent more than 1,200 days in jail while awaiting a resolution of his case.

"We're not minimizing. What he did was wrong," Jones said. "This was an act under sudden heat, over emotions, that he cannot take back."

During his time in custody, Richmond completed a number of programs available to inmates, wrote two fiction books and created several plans for life after incarceration, she said.

"We're asking for a split sentence," she said. "We know there has to be a punishment for this."

Richmond asked Bokota to consider a sentence that includes alternative placement, so he can bet back to his children as soon as possible.

He said he wants to be a role model for them and ensure they can take advantage of opportunities they might otherwise have to forgo without both parents in their lives.

He apologized to Mbi's family and said he hoped the would forgive him.

"I truly thought I was helping someone who was in trouble," he said. "I did not realize the seriousness of his injuries until he died."

Richmond said he appreciated the state's plea offer and pleaded for a second chance.

"I made a horrible mistake, and I don't want this mistake to hurt my kids," he said.

Bokota said a more lenient sentence can be given when a defendant's incarceration would result in undue hardship to the defendant or his dependents.

In Richmond's case, the children will suffer and miss him, but their hardship would be normal for any child with an incarcerated parent.

The children live with their mother, who is no longer engaged to Richmond, attorneys said.

If Richmond successfully completes programs in the Indiana Department of Correction, he can petition the court for a sentence modification, Bokota said.

Richmond told the judge he did not want to appeal his sentence.

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