EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 12, 2013

Robbery suspect pleads for lower bail

Woman blames crime spree on drug addiction

By John Toole

---- — DERRY — A single mother addicted to heroin begged a judge to let her get help rather than stay in jail on robbery charges.

“Please lower my bail,” Rochelle Richards, 23, of Derry, pleaded with 10th Circuit Court Judge John Coughlin during her arraignment yesterday. “I have a drug problem.”

But Coughlin approved the $50,000 cash bail requested by the prosecution.

Richards is charged with robbery for a holdup Sunday at the East Derry General Store and attempted robbery at the Subway on Perkins Road in Londonderry on Tuesday.

There’s more to come.

Manchester police have issued warrants for her arrest in connection with two store robberies there, Lt. Maureen Tessier said.

Her parents, Michael and Nina, were in the courtroom.

Richards repeatedly sobbed during the video arraignment yesterday. She is being held in the county jail.

“I just want to get out, please,” Richards begged the judge.

Her father, too, asked Coughlin to allow his daughter to get help.

“What my daughter said is true,” Michael Richards told the judge. “She has a drug addiction problem.”

Richards told police she is addicted to heroin and has used it every day, according to court documents.

She told them she has been an addict since October. She is a single mother of a son she fears the state will take from her.

During the arraignment, Richards told the judge she had been going to Hampstead Hospital for treatment. Her father asked the judge to let her continue treatment there or through some other program.

“She’s not a bad person,” he said. “She is a drug addict.”

Her father said after the hearing they had no idea her addiction was so bad.

Coughlin scheduled a probable cause hearing for Wednesday and agreed to appoint an attorney to represent Richards. He ordered her to refrain from using drugs, alcohol or possessing weapons.

“I’m stuck in here until then?” Richards asked. “I don’t understand what’s going on.”

Coughlin repeated what he had said.

Richards put her head in her hands and told her father she loved him.

A Derry police affidavit said Richards allegedly entered the East Derry General Store shortly before 6:30 p.m. Sunday, told the clerk she had a gun and demanded money.

She didn’t show a gun, but kept her hand in her pocket and told the clerk “she would shoot her,” if the clerk tried to follow, police said.

Detectives later released images from a store surveillance camera showing the female suspect and a blue Dodge Neon parked near the store.

At least two people told police on Tuesday that the images resembled Richards. Investigators then determined she owned a blue Dodge Neon.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday evening, Londonderry police, investigating an attempted robbery at Subway, and Manchester police, investigating a convenience store robbery, matched plate numbers from the suspect’s vehicle to Richards’ car.

Derry police stopped her on Route 28 in Derry Tuesday night.

She agreed to be interviewed at the police station, where she refused a lawyer and confessed to the Derry robbery, the attempted Londonderry robbery, as well as two in Manchester, according to police affidavits.

“Rochelle Richards stated neither she nor her baby’s father had money for daycare,” Detective Christopher Talbot wrote. “Rochelle Richards stated she drove around Derry and subsequently pulled into the East Derry store.”

In Londonderry, the clerk laughed at Richards and demanded to see the gun when she tried to rob the Subway, according to a Londonderry police affidavit. Richards then fled.

One of the Manchester robberies, at the Candia Road Convenience store off Interstate 93 Exit 6, happened 30 minutes after the attempted Londonderry robbery.

The other happened April 3 at D’Angelo’s on South Willow Street in Manchester.

Richards was being held at the county jail in Brentwood, but was expected to be transferred to the Valley Street jail in Manchester.