Imprisoned Minnesota Murderer is Running for Office…Again
Minnesota inmate Leonard Richards, 75, is serving a life imprisonment for committing two murders. And, now he is running for a U.S. Senate seat from behind bars – which, apparently, is completely legal. Minnesota law bars inmates from running for state-level offices, but they can run for federal office.
Richards seems to be aware of this bizarre loophole, unsuccessfully seeking positions in federal office multiple times. And, he keeps going for the gold despite serving a sentence with no possibility of parole, this time vying for Amy Klobuchar’s Senate seat. His sister, who wants voters to know about her brother’s sordid history, said the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office told her although it was aware of her brother’s crimes and his conviction, it could not keep Richards’ name off the ballot.
“The only valid requirements are that you be of a certain age and that you live in the state on Election Day, essentially,” Bert Black, a legal adviser for the office, said. There is nothing to keep the felon from running.
Richards was convicted of killing his half-sister, May Wilson, in 1982, and of then fatally shooting his attorney, Robert Stratton, in 1987. Richards killed Wilson in the basement of a store he had rented but was not brought to trial until several years after her death. At that time, he murdered his lawyer who was handling an IRS investigation involving Richards.
Stratton met his client for lunch, and afterward, Richards ended up killing him in the basement of his girlfriend’s home. The murder took place right before the parties were scheduled to meet with IRS investigators. The defendant must not have liked what his attorney had to say.
Richards’ girlfriend, Linda Winbush, turned him into the police when she noticed blood stains on his pants. She also found other blood-soaked items in and around her home.
Richard’s previous conviction for Stratton’s premeditated first-degree murder was reversed by the Supreme Court of Minnesota when he successfully argued that he had been denied his right of self-representation. However, at the second trial, he was granted, Richards represented himself and was again convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. He attempted to appeal again, but the court affirmed the conviction.
Richards’ sister said even though she realizes her brother won’t win, and since he’s behind bars without parole, there’s no chance that he would be able to serve if elected, “even one vote for this murderer is too many.”
Richards ran in the Democratic primary for a congressional seat in 1992 and received more than 14,500 votes. He ran again in 1994 and received more than 4,000 votes. His sister is planning to ask lawmakers to change the requirements regarding who can run for federal positions. She doesn’t understand why convicted felons would be barred from running at the state level, but not at the federal level.
In 2015 Richards tried to run for a congressional seat again but couldn’t get his notice of candidacy notarized. He said at the time, “This [running in federal elections] is not something new, now that I’m a prisoner.” He is currently being held at Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater.