After a five-week murder trial, jury deliberations began at 2:18 p.m. on July 1, 1997, according to the trial minutes. A jury foreperson was elected at this time. On Wednesday, July 2 at 9:15 a.m., jurors requested read backs of Mark Nourse’s and George Patrick’s testimonies. The jury was excused July 3 to July 6 for Independence Day weekend. Deliberations resumed on Monday, July 7 at 9:32 a.m. At 11:20 a.m., the court was advised the jury was deadlocked. Excluding documented breaks and elapsed time during the court reporter’s read backs, the jury had deliberated Richards’ fate for no more than seven hours and 39 minutes before it stalemated. Risley implored the judge for a vigorous inquiry. Two hours later Smith filed a motion to dismiss the hung jury. Powers questioned the foreperson whether more deliberation might break the deadlock. The juror expressed uncertainty about the definition of reasonable doubt. Powers replied that it had already been provided. Two ballots had been cast at that stage, the foreperson indicated.
“Do you feel that some additional discussion would assist you at this time?” Powers inquired again.
“It would be – I honestly don’t know.”
The judge then individually polled jurors to ascertain whether more dialogue might help. Six no’s and six maybes were tallied—at which point Powers asked for a resumption. On July 8, the jury went from deadlocked to a unanimous verdict in three hours and 33 minutes of further deliberations.
“We, the jury in the above-entitled action, find the defendant, WILLIAM JOSEPH RICHARDS, guilty of the offense of MURDER WITH PREMEDITATION AND DELIBERATION IN THE FIRST DEGREE.”
The Daily Press ran a brief article, “Man Guilty of Murdering Wife,” the week of Richards’ conviction. Risley told the local newspaper that he would’ve pursued a fourth retrial had this jury failed to reach a verdict. An alternate juror interviewed in the report said he believed reasonable doubt existed. “I just didn’t think there was any real compelling evidence except the bite mark Mr. Smith brought into the case,” he said. While not surprised by the jury’s quick turnaround, the alternate juror did say he was surprised by the guilty verdict. Jury records have been sealed since the trial’s end.
Richards’ sentencing hearing was held on Dec. 4, 1998. Two women delivered statements on Richards’ behalf. Cathy Hopkins told the court that police investigators initially advised her that the injury on Pam’s right hand was caused by dogs scratching the victim at the scene. Richards was a caring man who loved his wife. “This is a mistake,” she added. The other speaker was Kathleen Olejnik. Six months prior, she signed a three-page handwritten affidavit which was admitted into the court record. Olejnik was Pam’s younger sister, and had known Bill Richards for 28 years.
“I believe William Richards did not kill or murder my sister Pamela Richards,” Olejnik wrote.
The written declaration contained bombshells. Olejnik alleged that Patrick phoned her at home in Indiana the night after Pam’s death. In an unsolicited volley, the boyfriend stated that he had fallen in love with Pam, intended to marry her and denied any involvement in her demise. “Bill did this to her,” he allegedly said. She was dismayed that Patrick had somehow obtained her phone number. The statement included other scathing accusations. In vain, Patrick tried to lure Pam away from her marriage with the promise of a large settlement that was pending. Pam confided to Olejnik multiple times that she feared Patrick, not her husband. Patrick sent flowers to Pam’s workplace and bothered her there. While she was home alone, Patrick stalked Pam.
At the hearing, she testified before the court that she had traveled seven hours by plane to attend the day’s proceeding, leaving her children at home. The sisters spoke by phone three-to-five times a week, according to Olejnik. It was also her parents’ belief that Richards was not responsible for their daughter’s death. “My sister told me she loved Bill. She would never divorce him.” Directing her comments to the prosecutor, she questioned his loyalties. “You’re supposed to be for my sister,” she complained. Olejnik finished and Risley responded. “The only phone call that I received, and it’s unfortunate, in five years from Ms. Richards’ sister [sic] was how could I be prosecuting Mr. Richards. It’s unfortunate that she never bothered to call me to discuss, contact and discuss the evidence we had on Mr. Richards.” He then concluded that a jury of Richards’ peers had convicted him, and he was to be removed from society. Olejnik passed away in 2003.
Judge Powers sentenced Richards to California State Prison for the indeterminate term of 25 years to life. He was remanded to the custody of the Department of Corrections, and the hearing ended.