Spectators and jurors were riveted in a seventh-floor courtroom Thursday while listening to an audio recording of an accused killer.
It was nearly two years ago when Donovan Richardson called a friend from the Wake County jail and pleaded with her to provide him with an alibi for the night of a home invasion that led to the shooting deaths of two longtime friends in 2014.
“You are like an angel to me right now,” Richardson said to his friend. “I kinda need you to be my alibi. I need you to say I was there. I was not somewhere else.”
“Yeah,” the friend, Jamila Gillam of Angier, replied.
Thursday marked the sixth day of testimony in the capital double murder case of Richardson, 24, of Holly Springs. Prosecutors say Richardson, along with Gregory A. Crawford of Fuquay-Varina, broke into the Fuquay-Varina home of Arthur Lee Brown in the early morning hours of July 18, 2014.
A third accomplice, Kevin Bernard Britt of Holly Springs, waited outside in a truck for the burglars.
Brown, a popular 74-year-old construction company owner, and his friend and longtime employee, David Eugene McKoy, 66, were both shot and killed in Brown’s home.
Crawford last year was sentenced to life in prison. Britt has not gone to trial, but has been cooperating with investigators. Richardson could face the death penalty if he is convicted of first-degree murder.
On Thursday afternoon, prosecutor Matt Lively called Gillam to the witness stand. She told the court that on May 16, 2016, she was at her home with Tykeiyah Alexander, Richardson’s girlfriend. Gillam told the court that while she was there, Richardson made a collect call to Alexander from the Wake County jail, where he has been in custody since his arrest on Aug. 3, 2014.
Lively activated a recording of the call in the courtroom. Alexander could be heard talking with Richardson for a short period before handing the phone to Gillam.
“Hey Donovan,” Gillam said.
“What’s up?” Richardson replied.
“What’s going on?” Gillam asked.
Richardson asked if he was on speaker phone. When Gillam told Richardson he was, the accused killer asked her to take him off so they could speak privately.
“All you got to say is I was there. I need an alibi. You know what I’m saying?” said Richardson.
Later in the conversation, Richardson told Gillam, “When my lawyer calls and ask what time was it, say it was early in the morning and I was there with you. I got you. You know I love you.”
“I love you,” Gillam replied.
Alexander was pregnant with Richardson’s child when he was arrested. The child could be heard in the background of the recording while Richardson spoke with Gillam and Alexander.
The child’s mother got back on the phone with Richardson. “This is crazy,” she repeated several times.
“Donovan, don’t make me cry,” she added before promising to accept his next collect call from the jail and hanging up.
During cross-examination Thursday by defense attorney Joseph Zeszotarski, Gillam said neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys suggested she provide Richardson with an alibi.
Wake prosecutor Howard Cummings on Thursday asked Wake County Superior Court Judge Graham Shirley to place Richardson in solitary confinement, where he would not have access to a telephone or digital devices until the trial ends.
“He needs to be excommunicated until we finish this trial,” said Cummings, who requested that Richardson only have contact with detention officials or his attorneys. “It appears he has people on the outside who are willing to do things for him.”
Shirley said he would inquire with jail officials about Richardson’s housing status.
The trial resumes Tuesday morning.