Judge rejects man's 'mentally ill' defense in brutal hotel assault

The vicious attack happened at a downtown hotel in June 2018.
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A judge sentenced a man to serve 9 years in prison for a vicious assault of his friend, rejecting his defense lawyer's request he be given probation and treatment for his mental health conditions.

William Richards, 30, of Minneapolis, had previously pleaded guilty to the 1st-degree assault of is friend, Deangelo Profit, whom he hit with a "sharp military trench tool" at the Double Tree Hotel at 1101 LaSalle Ave. on June 27, 2018.

The Hennepin County Attorney's Office says that Profit worked at the hotel, and on the day of the attack Richards rented a room using Profit's employee discount. When he was told Profit was working on cleaning a room, Richards went to the room and hit him in the back of the head with the tool.

Richards then chased Profit and continued "hacking at him" in another room until other people in the hotel stopped the attack and held Richards till police arrived.

Richards told police that Profit had been his friend until he had "murdered" his uncle, claiming that it had been covered up "so the murder rate won't go up." Police learned that Richards' uncle had actually died from a heart attack several months earlier.

Last September, a judge found Richards mentally incompetent to help with his own defense, before a court six months later ruled that treatment had restored him to mental competency.

Nonetheless, his lawyer had argued that Richards is mentally ill and shouldn't be imprisoned, rather should receive probation and mental health treatment.

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But prosecutor Joshua Larson, an Assistant Hennepin County Attorney, cited the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton in arguing it's "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."

Police found Richards had taken a number of steps to prepare for the attack.

District Court Judge Regina Chu agreed, sentencing him to 110 months in prison, saying that based on his past history of violence and failure to follow probation conditions: "I can’t say he won’t have future unprovoked violence."

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