Nine years for man who chased friend through hotel, beat with shovel

Monday, August 12, 2019

William Richards was sentenced to more than nine years in prison for a vicious assault of a friend, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announced Monday.

Richards, 30, of Minneapolis pleaded guilty June 11 to first-degree assault for repeatedly hitting a man he had worked with, Deangelo Profit, with a sharp military trench tool. Hennepin County District Court Judge Regina Chu sentenced Richards to 110 months in prison Friday.

According to the complaint, on June 27, 2018, Richards went to the Double Tree Hotel, 1101 LaSalle Ave., and asked to rent a room using Profit’s discount. Richards was told Profit was working and cleaning a room. Richards went to that room and hit Profit in the back of the head with the sharp trenching tool. Profit was able to run from the room and Richards pursued him.

Profit ran into another room but Richards eventually forced his way into that room and continued hacking at Profit until other people in the hotel were able to stop the attack and hold Richards until police arrived, the complaint states. Profit suffered severe wounds to the back of his head and both of his arms. Richards told police the two men were friends but Profit had murdered Richards’ uncle in March although it was “covered up so that the murder rate wouldn’t go up.”

Investigators learned that Richards’ uncle actually died of a heart attack several months earlier.

On Sept. 25, a judge found Richards mentally incompetent to help with his own defense. Six months later, the court found treatment had restored him to mental competency and Richards later entered his guilty plea.

At the sentencing hearing, Profit told the judge that “physically, it is extremely hard for me to go on with life.” He has limited use of his hands so he cannot work, fix food or tie his daughter’s shoes. In the middle of conversations, he will forget what he is saying, Profit said.

Richards’ lawyer argued that his client is mentally ill and should not be imprisoned but should receive probation and obtain help for his condition.

However, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Joshua Larson alluded to the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, telling the judge that, in this week, it is possible to both acknowledge that Richards has a history of mental illness and appreciate that his illness was not so severe that Richards lacked substantial capacity for judgment in carrying out this “horrific and shocking” attack. Larson noted that the Minneapolis Police Department investigation discovered that Richards took numerous steps in preparing for the attack and he was aware of the “gravity, immorality and criminality of his actions.”

Judge Chu noted that he has some past history of violence and has not consistently followed his probationary conditions. She concluded that “I can’t say he won’t have future unprovoked violence,” and sentenced him to prison.

Criminal Complaint (PDF)