Prosecutors to seek death penalty in case against Chula Vista ma - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Prosecutors to seek death penalty in case against Chula Vista man accused of three murders

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A Chula Vista man accused of killing his girlfriend in 1992 and more recently his wife and mother-in-law in a staged car wreck will face the death penalty if convicted, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Michael Eugene Richardson, 58, was charged in 2010 with two counts of murder in the deaths of his 39-year-old wife, Thao, and 72-year-old mother-in-law, Phan Lai. Their bodies were discovered on June 29, 2010 near an overturned car off state Route 67 north of Lakeside.

The defendant -- who owned a mechanic shop in Poway -- was charged a year ago in the death of 38-year-old Jovita Collazo of National City, whose body has not been found.

Richardson also is charged with carrying on a sexual relationship with his 17-year-old niece in 2010.

Deputy District Attorney Kurt Mechals told Judge Joan Weber today that his office will seek the death penalty should Richardson be convicted. Weber, who will preside over the case at the downtown courthouse, set trial for February 2013.

At Richardson's initial arraignment in July 2010, prosecutor Chantal de Mauregne told a judge that the defendant escaped from a North Carolina prison in 1982 -- where he served time for robbery -- and remained on the lam for 18 years.

He initially was charged only with molesting his niece. He was subsequently charged with the murders of his wife and mother-in-law and months later with the 1992 killing when evidence mounted pointing to Richardson, authorities said.

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