Shooter in Lewis Street triple homicide sentenced; accomplice pleads guilty

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The man who gunned down three men in a home on Lewis Street “execution-style” more than a year ago has been sentenced to serve nearly two centuries in prison.

Artavius Richards, 20, was sentenced Monday to 60 years apiece for the Feb. 24, 2016, murders 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, along with 10 years for a handgun enhancement – for a total of 190 years.

Richards was found guilty by a jury last month after his first trial ended with a hung jury.

Artavius Richards (left) and Darrell McDaniel (right)
Artavius Richards (left) and Darrell McDaniel (right)

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

The killings were not a hate crime but rather the end result of a robbery gone awry.

“It doesn’t make sense,” Adam Mekki’s father Kamal Kuku said. “What he did doesn’t make sense to anybody.”

Deputy Prosecutor Steve Godfrey said justice was only possible because a witness came forward.

“I don’t have to tell you how many unsolved homicides we have even from last year because we know people have information, but if they don’t come forward with it we can’t do anything,” Godfrey said. “That young lady did come forward and without her we wouldn’t be standing here today.”

Also Monday, McDaniel, who also faced three murder charges, agreed to a plea deal that will convict him of Level 2 robbery. McDaniel admitted to the judge that he and Richards went to the house on Lewis Street to rob the men, but he accidentally shot Adam Mekki.

“Our goal was from the beginning of this case when everybody was charged is to make sure that everybody is punished their specific roles in this case and we’re satisfied that that is the case,” Godfrey said.

The families agree that Richards, not McDaniel, is responsible for all three deaths.

“He went to school with our kids. Our kids know him very well, so I’m just glad he didn’t do that. He didn’t kill my son. He shot my son, of course, but he didn’t kill him,” Kuku said about McDaniel. “I’m so happy about it. I forgive him, but not the other guy at all.”

McDaniel will face no more than 20 years behind bars for the crime, according to terms of the deal. He will be sentenced April 10.

Richards told the court Monday he plans to appeal his sentence.