Port Townsend man gets more than 14 years for murder

Posted 11/4/22

Apologizing but not expecting forgiveness, Blake Robert Fox said his use of drugs and alcohol led to the unimaginable murder of Robin L. Richards in November 2021.

At his sentencing Friday for …

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Port Townsend man gets more than 14 years for murder

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Apologizing but not expecting forgiveness, Blake Robert Fox said his use of drugs and alcohol led to the unimaginable murder of Robin L. Richards in November 2021.

At his sentencing Friday for second-degree murder, the Port Townsend man said he was ready to accept responsibility for the killing.

“If it weren’t for drugs and alcohol there’s no way I would be in this position,” Fox said before his sentencing.

Fox was arrested Nov. 27 for the death of Richards, 62, of Quilcene.

Richards had been sitting in the living room of his home on McInnis Road when Fox, who had been smoking a cigarette outside following a dispute earlier that night, stepped back inside and started shooting.

Fox then fled into the night, prompting a 12-hour manhunt that finally ended when his Ford pickup ran out of gas in Chimacum and he was found in the forest near West Valley Road.

Fox reached a plea agreement with prosecutors in late September.

Superior Court Judge Keith Harper accepted the recommendation in the plea deal during Fox’s final court appearance Friday.

Harper gave Fox a prison sentence of 171.5 months, with three years of probation, restitution set at $5,549, and standard court costs and fees.

Fox’s parents sat next to him at the defense table before he was sentenced. His mother read a letter, apologizing for the loss felt by Richards’ family, and telling the courtroom “one of our worst nightmares came true” when a police officer started pounding on their door at 2:30 a.m. on the day of the murder.

“We were absolutely crushed,” she added.

She recalled how they have been seeking help for Fox since his was 14, eventually moving the family and their business to Washington state so Fox could escape the pull of drugs.

Fox was clean of drugs for nearly seven years before he relapsed, his mother said.

“We can’t understand any of this. It just doesn’t make sense,” she said.

When Harper asked Fox’s father if he had anything to say, he declined.

“I probably couldn’t get any words out,” he said.

Richards’ children spoke before Harper announced the sentence.

They remembered an upbeat, happy man; a best friend who loved to bring people together or lend a helping hand.

Richards’ daughter, Brandi Redden, recalled having to tell her 8-year-old daughter that her grandfather was dead.

“Her little body melted and she just sobbed,” Redden said.

“My dad was stolen from all of us because of your choices,” she said to Fox.

Fox, reading a prepared statement and occasionally stopping to wipe tears from his eyes with a tissue, said he was on drugs and alcohol the night of the murder.

He said he hoped the killing was just something in his head, and he recalled calling his parents the next day, hoping they would tell him no one had been hurt or fatally injured.

The truth was different.

“Every day I wake up, I have to come to grips with this not just being a bad nightmare I’m going to wake up from,” Fox said.

He said he was grateful no one else was hurt, and that he felt horrible for his actions.

“When I found out that Robin had passed, my stomach dropped and I could feel my world closing in on me,” Fox said. “At that point I wished I could trade places with him.”

Fox apologized to Richards’ family, turning around at one point to stare out across the courtroom.

“I do not expect forgiveness for the huge hole I left in the Richards family,” he continued.

Fox blamed the death on drugs and alcohol, but said he wanted to be accountable for his actions, and said he would work to better himself while in prison and would never again use drugs or alcohol.

“I believe God is going to use me and my story,” Fox said, to change lives and “to make right much of what I destroyed.” 

Before announcing the sentence, which fell at the midpoint of the standard sentencing range of 123 to 220 months in prison, Harper noted the familiar faces in the courtroom.

Growing up in a small town like Port Townsend brings the advantage, and disadvantage, of being familiar with the same people over the years, Harper said.

He recalled Fox, as well, from being in his courtroom when he was younger. Fox also worked in a restaurant frequented by the judge and his wife, and Harper also noted knowing his parents.

Harper recalled knowing Richards, as well, from a number of years ago, in addition to his mother and his sister.

“When I read in the paper that he was the victim of this shooting, I was shocked when I read that, and couldn’t believe it,” Harper said.

“For whatever it’s worth, I’m really sorry for all the people involved that this has happened,” he added.

To Fox, Harper said he had time to make better decisions; time to address his mental health problems.

“You’re a young guy, 38 years old,” Harper said. “What some of us would give to be 38 again.”

“You’re only 38 years old, so you’ve got most of your life ahead of you,” he said.

“When any of us screw up, we can’t go back in time and change it. On TV or in the movies, there’s time machines. There’s not for us.”

But a person can shape their future, in ways big and small.

“I hope you’re able to do that,” the judge told Fox.

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