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Victims’ families mourn at sentencing hearing for Cedar Rapids murderer

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Ankerria Johnson, aunt of Matrell Johnson, speaks in Linn County District Court Wednesday.
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27-year-old Andre Richardson in court Wednesday.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) - A district court judge sentenced Andre Richardson to serve a maximum of 75 years in prison Wednesday. Richardson was sentenced on all eight felony charges he pleaded guilty to in June.

You can watch the sentencing here

Richardson pleaded guilty to shooting and killing two teenagers and injuring two more in the Iowa Smoke Shop parking lot in May 2019.

Matrell Johnson and Royal Abrams, both 18 at the time, were killed when Richardson shot into the backseat of a parked car they were riding in. Both of their families addressed Richardson Wednesday from the witness stand.

"Today I want to say, Andre, I have no hatred towards you. You're a man that made a decision. It was a rash decision and I wish you would have thought about your own children before you pulled that trigger," Ethel Brown said, Royal Abrams' mother.

While Brown didn't say she still resented Richardson, she got very emotional as she ended her time on the stand.

"I speak these words in this court so the court will know: His name was Royal Abrams. He was my only child and he didn't deserve to die the way he did," Brown said.

Matrell Johnson's father Michael Hodges Sr. also spoke. He didn't say he forgave Richardson but did say everyone in the courtroom needs to be civil.

"This is a learning experience for both my family and his family. He has kids --I have more kids, too. But being behind bars is where he needs to be," Hodges said.

Richardson did offer a brief apology to everyone affected, particularly the Johnson and Abrams families.

Judge Ian Thornhill sentenced Richardson to a maximum of 50 years in prison for two counts of Second Degree Murder. He also handed down a 25-year sentence for two counts of Attempt to Commit Murder for the two teens who were injured.

Those two sentences can be served concurrently or "at the same time".

Richardson was also given two ten-year-maximum sentences for two counts of Willful Injury to be served concurrently but after his 50 year sentence. He was also given another maximum ten-year sentence for Intimidation with a Dangerous Weapon to be served after the previous sentences.

Richardson was also sentenced a maximum of five years for Possession of a Firearm as a Felon.

The sentences in total represent a maximum of 75 years in prison but Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden says Richardson can start earning good time credits and program credits after 35 years, so he expected him to serve between 50 and 55 years.

Richardson was also ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution to the families of Matrell Johnson and Royal Abrams.

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Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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