New trial set for Lewis Street triple murder suspect

Artavius G. Richards faces 3 counts of murder in Feb. 24 slayings

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The man accused of killing three men “execution style” inside a Lewis Street home in February will be retried for the killings after a jury could not come to a verdict earlier this month.

“He was a little bit stunned,” Michelle Kraus, who is representing Richards, said about the hung jury. “When we talk to clients about potential outcomes of trials hung juries are something we typically don’t really discuss very often because they come few and far between.”

Artavius G. Richards will be retried beginning January 30, a judge decided Monday. Richards, along with Darrell L. McDaniel, who is also charged with murder in the Feb. 24 shooting deaths of 23-year-old Mohamedtaha Omar, 20-year-old Adam Mekki, and 17-year-old Muhannad Tairab inside a home at 808 East Lewis Street. After the first trial, Kraus said she got a chance to talk to the jury.

“To get a feel for what was persuasive to them either for the state or for us and based upon what they said I’m going to do a little bit of investigation to see if I can break open a few things on Artavius’ behalf,” Kraus said.

Richards also requested a speedy trial.

“We tried it as a speedy the first time and were almost successful so he wants to roll that dice again,’ Kraus said.

Artavius Richards
Artavius Richards

Richards and McDaniel were both arrested in September after months of investigation and public interest. The case drew international attention because the three victims were reportedly Muslims.

According to a probable cause affidavit, the killings were not a hate crime but rather the end result of a robbery gone awry.

In early March, police investigators came across a woman who made “several slip ups” during a conversation with her that led detectives to look further. Three days later, that woman told police she knew McDaniel and Richards, who she referred to as Little D and Artie. She told police she drove the teens to the Lewis Street home that February day.

The woman, identified in the affidavits as “J.G.,” told police McDaniel called her and ask her to drive them to the home to buy some marijuana, the affidavit said. When they arrived, the woman told police that she was instructed to park on the side street to the east of the home near an alley, and McDaniel and Richards got out, the affidavit said.

Darrell McDaniel
Darrell McDaniel

When they returned to the vehicle, “they looked very scared,” the woman told police, according to the affidavit.

In the car, the woman said Richards asked McDaniel whey he shot. McDaniel responded, “it was an accident,” and Richards said they couldn’t have any witnesses “so he had to finish it,” the affidavit said.

The woman said she met with the pair the next day and asked what happened. McDaniel told her it was supposed to be a robbery but his gun discharged and “they couldn’t have any witnesses,” the affidavit said.

The woman identified both Richards and McDaniel in a photo array, the affidavit said.

A phone record also showed that McDaniel and the woman who said she drove the men to Lewis Street that day were both in the area at the time the victims were killed, the affidavit said.