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Alleged intruder shot

By Frank Lewis

October 14, 2013

Frank Lewis


PDT Staff Writer


Early Monday evening, the Portsmouth Police Department received notification from Cabell Huntington Hospital that the family of Keith Richards had signed the necessary paperwork to remove him from life support, and that the hospital staff was moving forward with that process.


Richards was reportedly shot as an intruder of a Portsmouth residence over the weekend. Portsmouth Police said Richards, 31, was apparently shot at 1036 23rd St. by Paul (J.R.) Penix, Jr. when he was found either in the home of Cindy Wellman — who died recently — or attempting to enter that home around 9:35 p.m. Sunday. Penix is Wellman’s brother and police said he had the authority to be inside the house at the time of the incident.


“Officers responded to the call of a burglary in progress,” Captain Jerry Leach of the Portsmouth Police Department said. “While en route, they got a signal that there had been a shooting. Upon arrival they found Paul Penix and Keith Richards at the house. Richards had been shot, and at this time it is under investigation.”


The house had the attention of authorities earlier in the week.


“The house was broken into the previous (Saturday) night, and this (Monday) morning we have done some investigation and we think that this is probably the person that has been doing the north end burglaries,” Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware said. “And there are some homes that have been hit more than once just like this one. We’re not at a point where we’re ready to file charges, but we certainly think we’re on the right track.”


Meanwhile, earlier in the day Monday, detectives from the Portsmouth Police Department said they had executed a search warrant at Richards’ residence and recovered property believed to be linked to several burglaries and break-ins in the north end of Portsmouth.


“The house was broken into the previous (Saturday) night, and this (Monday) morning we have done some investigation and we think that this is probably the person that has been doing the north end burglaries,” Ware said. “And there are some homes that have been hit more than once just like this one. We’re not at a point where we’re ready to file charges, but we certainly think we’re on the right track.”


Ware said he believes the incident to be one of self defense.


“It appears the shot was fired from inside the house toward the doorway, and he (Richards) was found in the doorway,” Ware said. “We’re looking at it as a case of self defense, because the presumption of it under the law is that you are acting in self defense unless we can come up with something to indicate otherwise. Basically under the Castle Doctrine, you have a right to defend yourself as the occupant of the home against an intrusion.”


Ware said he had not talked with Scioto County Prosecutor Mark Kuhn, but assumed the case would go to a Scioto County grand jury.


The investigation is continuing at this time.


Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.