For eight years the family of Rick and Suzy Wamsley, who were brutally killed inside their Mansfield home, have largely remained silent while the justice system ran its course. On Tuesday, the last defendant, Chelsea Richardson, had her death sentence changed to life in prison.
Afterward, the Wamsley family released the following statement, which characterizes how these violent murders have impacted their lives. Other than this statement they will have no other public comment and ask that their privacy be respected.
On December 11, 2003, Rick and Suzy Wamsley were violently and senselessly murdered in their home in Mansfield,Texas. Today, the last of the appeals has been completed, and Chelsea Richardson, Andrew Wamsley, Susana Toledano, and Hilario Cardenas are behind bars and serving their sentences. We, Rick and Suzy’s family, have lived through this nightmare for over 8 years, and with evidence provided to us both before and during the trial, we are 100% confident of the guilt of each of these four criminals.
Today, the death penalty unanimously imposed by 12 jurors for Chelsea Richardson’s leadership role in the murders of Rick and Suzy has been reduced to life in prison because of a procedural technicality. When apprised by the District Attorney’s Office of the possibility of having to return to court for a new penalty phase and having to relive the details of this tragic night yet again, our family supported the District Attorneys Office’s offer of a plea deal. It is far past time to set this painful event aside.
Had Chelsea, and Andrew, taken the plea bargain of Life in Prison when offered in July, 2004, our family could have been spared the emotional, physical, and mental toll that has plagued us these past 8 years, not to mention the enormous cost to the citizens (taxpayers) of Tarrant County.
Even though this phase of the judicial process is over, our agony is not. There is no such thing as closure for such a tragedy. Our family will be reminded of this horror each anniversary of Rick and Suzy’s death, each holiday without them, all of the family celebrations without them. We will relive this nightmare when we fight paroles for first Hilario, then Susana, and finally Andrew and Chelsea.
We have learned a lot about the judicial system. We learned how involved the process is and that the burden of proof rests on the District Attorney’s Office. We learned that evidence must be so compelling that it convinces 12 jurors beyond a doubt. We learned that IF a guilty verdict is returned, before a death penalty can be imposed, those same 12 jurors must unanimously agree on three questions: 1) Does the defendant constitute a “continuing threat to society?” 2) Were there mitigating circumstances to warrant a sentence of life imprisonment rather than a death sentence? and 3) Could the defendant have “anticipated” that a human life would be taken? That is a total of 4 times that 12 people were in agreement for Chelsea’s sentence. We also learned that those convicted and sentenced to the death penalty have many rights and years of appeals. But it is hard not to wonder, “Where were Rick and Suzy’s rights when they were murdered in their own home for the sole purpose of stealing the proceeds of years of their hard work and planning?”
These four young people represent one of the worst of human behaviors (greed). But our family experienced some of the best of human behaviors as well. Not only extended family, friends, co-workers, but even complete strangers showed unbelievable compassion, support, and respect. We treasure every kind hug, every kind word, and every kind act and deed. For these, we say thank you.
It is impossible to mention everyone who touched our lives, but we do want to express our appreciation for the respect and sensitivity shown to our family: the Mansfield Police Department, the Texas Rangers, the FBI, and the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office who worked diligently and tirelessly to bring justice for Rick and Suzy. They involved our family by keeping us informed as much as possible and by helping us forge through the quagmire of two murders and the subsequent proceedings.
It is heartbreaking to lose loved ones, more so to lose them to murder, and even more to have a member of your family be responsible and to be charged with Capital Murder. However, as citizens of our society, we must abide by the laws of our society. We must realize that people who choose to live outside these laws must be prepared to “pay the price”. Even though these needless murders have had a devastating impact on our family, caused countless sleepless hours, disrupted our lives, and caused us to shed many bitter tears, we are convinced these four defendants did break the law and should have to “pay the price.” We also believe, as a result of these choices, their sentences are fair and justice has been served. Rick and Suzy will never be forgotten, and we pray that they may now rest in peace.
- The family of Rick and Suzy Wamsley