Richmond author comes to terms with her past, one story at a time


It was on a regular night more than three decades ago when Shonda Dilliehunt woke to several masked gunmen raiding her home. Life wasn’t perfect at their small apartment in the Kennedy Park housing complex, but she never imagined something like this. All she heard was a distinctive boom, and men she didn’t know forced…

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Prosecutor reflects on trial, conviction of Joe ‘Fatter’ Blacknell in Richmond gang case

As the jury’s deliberation dragged into a second week, the pressure mounted. Always unflappable in the courtroom, prosecuting attorney Derek Butts nevertheless found himself wracked with inner anxiety. “Those two weeks were brutal,” Butts said. For more than a month in the trial of Joe Blacknell III, Butts’ scratchy monotone had never wavered. Hostile witnesses…

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Blacknell convicted in murder of Marcus Russell, other counts

Joe blacknell marcus russell

Joe Blacknell III was found guilty Thursday of 20 felony counts, including the first degree murder of Marcus Russell in 2009. Jurors reached their decision after more than eight days of deliberations. Blacknell, 21, was convicted on 20 out of 22 felonies with which he was charged. He was found not guilty on two counts…

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Blacknell’s mother takes stand in Richmond murder case

shawny bo and joe fatter blacknell

Joe Blacknell III’s mother took the stand in his defense Wednesday, testifying that her son is a hip-hop fan and father of three, and not a violent gang member who killed one man and wounded at least four others in 2009, as police and prosecutors allege. “You guys make him out to be this,” said…

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Blacknell defense opens case, focuses on science and inconsistent witnesses

On the first day of witness testimony for the defense, public defender Diana Garrido spent several hours focused on what may be the prosecution’s biggest weaknesses in its case against Joe Blacknell III: shaky witnesses and inconclusive scientific evidence. The prosecution’s star witness, a woman shot and wounded while driving with murder victim Marcus Russell,…

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