The 10th Interview:
Mark’s Final Defense
Kerry Cassidy’s 10th Interview with Captain Mark Richards (March, 2019), under Project Camelot and the Total Recall banner, was billed as the opportunity to talk “for the first time about the trial and his side of the story.” Although the interview was expanded from there, it is the trial that focuses our interest. Cassidy uses “do your own research” as a mantra. We have done so and reach far different conclusions — as our main article attests. In this case, the true crime story is true. The interview encompasses numerous other matters ranging from the assassination of John Kennedy, a friendship with Ernest Borgnine (McHale’s Navy), and a major raptor wedding – a “great love story” – that occurred shortly before. See our … Continue reading
Mark begins by stating that all of the prosecutor’s information about the Richard Baldwin murder came from Andrew Campbell. Andrew was going through Baldwin’s house at the time and testified under an immunity agreement, providing details about the plan to kill Richard Baldwin. Jurors are instructed to consider such testimony with caution. Mark’s attorneys attacked his credibility and argued that Campbell, rather than Mark, should be on trial. However, Mark’s assertion that “all” of the information came from Campbell simply is not true. Although Andrew’s testimony was undoubtedly important to the case, the jury foreperson stated that even without it there was “tremendous evidence” to support the guilt verdict.
Indeed, there was testimony that Mark tried to recruit two other teens to murder Baldwin before he convinced Crossan Hoover and Andrew to participate in the crime. Immediately after the murder, Mark bought a boat with the proceeds that were obtained from Baldwin’s home. The boat was used to dump the body. Cable and plastic sheeting were found in Mark’s truck that matched what was used to dispose of the body. Richards used Baldwin’s checks and credit cards to go on a spending spree. Other items belonging to Baldwin – including guns – were found in Mark’s possession. (Murder in Camelot.)
Moreover, Mark acknowledged his financial problems and admitted to having taken items from Baldwin’s house after the crime. He destroyed evidence and stated, “Obviously, I’m part of it now.” (Statement to Investigators.)
Although the interview with Crossan Hoover could not be admitted into evidence, the prosecutor’s knowledge of the case was informed by that. Hoover spoke in detail about how Mark instigated the crime and was there when the murder was committed.
In short, Andrew was a star witness, but there was more to the case against Mark than his testimony. At the very least, Mark admitted that he helped cover up the crime in ways that are now at odds with his current story or his claims to be a space captain.
Mark challenges the motives for the crime that were advanced against him. He states that the Pendragon book, Imperial Marin was simply a novel — a book that he was writing about a future kingdom in Marin that had become a powerful nation. Undoubtedly, Mark had been working on the book for years. His attorney, Carl Shapiro, called the Pendragon Plot “absurd upon absurd.” (Murder in Camelot) and dismissed it as a fantasy novel.
The prosecutor did not try to argue that the plot to take over the county was real, but that it was used to manipulate Hoover — Andrew was not a member of the Pendragon group. Richards met with several teens, claimed funding by George Lucas, printed a Pendragon newsletter, drew diagrams of the area, took the group to critical locations and began to collect weapons. The newsletter seems have disappeared. We would love to see a copy. The teens took the plans seriously and testified that the plot was real. Even if it was based on a novel, which was set long after the Pendragon kingdom had been established, Richards developed contemporary plans and used them to manipulate Hoover with promises that he would be a duke. (People v. Hoover; Murder in Camelot.)
The jurors were instructed to limit the use of Pendragon when considering the evidence and stated that it did not factor into their decision. However, there might be more to Mark’s dreams of Pendragon than a novel. Mark increasingly seemed to take Pendragon seriously before the crime, including suggesting to a business partner that it would be nice if Marin were under his control. (California Magazine, “Medieval Murder in Marin,” Jan. 1983.) A friend of Mark’s testified that they went to Mt. Tamalpais and Mark identified sites that could be used to defend Marin after an insurrection. That Pendragon was a book did not mean that it was only a book.
Mark also disputes any financial motive. He claims that his wife Caryn had spent over $500,000 on furniture before the crime. Mark also states that Caryn was pressured by the mob to divorce him, and that her family has ties to the mob. These claims are fabrications, offered without evidence. He contends that he had more than one construction company and ran several crews, at the same time that he was a Captain. Mark blames the reports of financial problem on a statement of indigency that he signed in jail – where he had no income – but maintains that it was untrue at the time of the actual crime.
Mark’s statements at the time of the crime were far different than what he now asserts. In his interview with investigators he acknowledged his financial problems and stated, “God knows I needed the cash [Baldwin owed him] more than I need killing somebody.” Before the crime, his business partnership dissolved and checks to his former partner and employees bounced; jobs performed by his unlicensed contracting business were botched because Mark had hired unskilled teens in order to economize; there was no evidence that Mark had more than one company. (California Magazine.) After the crime, both his wife and a former employee were surprised, given his financial problems, when Mark suddenly was able to buy a boat, jewelry, video equipment, and other items. (Murder in Camelot.).
Ultimately, the jurors found Mark guilty of murder for financial gain. The Court of Appeal ruled that there was sufficient evidence to support this finding. Mark has never explained why he needed to run even a single construction company as a cover for the secret space program. If he were a naval captain, a military career could provide all the cover he needed without the distraction of running a separate business. His father, … Continue reading
Kerry repeats the speculation and errors that Paul Collin advanced to claim that Baldwin was a pedophile. The analysis on this site (The Murder of Richard Baldwin) need not be repeated. The allegation is based on misrepresentations and a profound misunderstanding of both the law and the facts of the case. However, Mark embellishes it by claiming that his teenage workers found a huge amount of child pornography in Baldwin’s house.
Defamation of the victim is never a good defense unless strong evidence backs it up. Mark’s story is again inconsistent with his statements to investigators at the time of the crime, when he said that he did not know about Baldwin’s sexuality. There was no reason for Mark to keep the discovery of child pornography from the investigators — it would have helped his case. Moreover, the two teens involved did not speak about finding it, police did not find any, and no mention was made of it during Mark’s trial.
Beyond these matters, there are fundamental questions. If child pornography had been found would a space captain and successful contractor fail to report it to the police and let a teenaged crew continue to work alone in Baldwin’s house? Mark can either have his honor or character as a captain or he can try to blame the victim — he cannot have both.
Ellis Richards, Jr.
The Kerry Cassidy interview adds one important story about Major Ellis Richards, Mark’s father. Mark has long described Ellis as the “infamous Dutchman” and maintained that he engaged in numerous exploits both before and after he retired from the Air Force to become head of earth security. Mark now relates that about the time of the murder, Ellis had been in Russia fighting aliens.
Ellis had been injured long before any of these events. A 1952 plane crash left him with a broken neck, a concussion, and deep injuries. He was partially paralyzed after that. The 1997 death certificate notes that Ellis had a fractured spine and quadriplegia for 42 years. His physical condition would not have permitted him to engage in combat after the accident. Indeed, the lasting effect of these injuries were observed around the time that the events that Mark describes were said to have to occurred. (See The Lineage; California Magazine, describing Ellis’s severe disabilities in 1983 resulting from the crash.)
Carl Shapiro and Mark’s Defense
Mark claims that his attorney, Carl Shapiro, was a family friend and mob associate who had once worked with Melvin Belli to defend Jack Ruby. Mark was lulled into a false sense of security by Shapiro who ended up refusing to let him present an alibi that he was eating with his parents at the time of the crime.
Carl Shapiro was the lead attorney, but Dennis Riordan also represented Mark. Both attorneys were among the best in the state. Riordan continues to be regarded as a “lawyer’s lawyer.” His work on Mark’s case was outstanding in every respect. Mark had a “dream team” representing him.
Shapiro was the dean of the Marin County criminal defense and civil rights bar. He was once described as being Marin’s “Liberal Lion in Winter.” Carl was an inspiration to many of us both as a lawyer and a human being. Shapiro’s practice was legendary, but it was not based on money, rather on his fundamental respect for human rights. Tony Serra, himself a famed defense attorney, once stated, “I want to be Carl Shapiro when I grow up.” His obituary accurately described him as a “colorfully unorthodox progressive lawyer” who was known for representing low income or no income clients.
This site has found no report or any record linking him to Ruby’s defense— although Ruby would have been well-served by him.
At one point in his career, Carl worked in San Francisco and was able to get a “mobsters” sentence reversed. He knew he could make a lot of money if he practiced that type of law but instead he went home a started his own practice. He had a far different vision. His humanity was apparent to all.
Kerry writes that Shapiro was fully aware of Mark’s role in the space command but did not want anything about it to come out at trial. “It is not hard to see that his involvement with the Kennedy assassination and the mob places Karl (sic) Shapiro in a uniquely advantageous position with respect to framing Mark Richards years later for the supposed murder of Baldwin.” As is often the case with Kerry, words fail. At best, her claims are ludicrous, but if defaming the victim does not work, there is always a lawyer.
Curiously, Mark does not mention that Shapiro first represented him in 1973. Mark was arrested for insurance fraud while walking to one of his classes at the College of Marin. Shapiro became Mark’s attorney and got the charges dismissed. (California Magazine.) Perhaps this association between Carl and Mark was ignored because it demonstrates that Mark was a student after he graduated from high school, rather than being an army lieutenant who flew helicopters in Vietnam, as he has claimed.
Shapiro believed in Mark’s innocence. (California Magazine.) He succeeded in reducing Mark’s bail to allow him to go home before the trial and in striking some of the allegations against Mark. His work on Mark’s trial was a that of an accomplished advocate in the face of what the trial court described as “overwhelming evidence,” so much so that the jury deliberated for four days before reaching their verdict. Although even good lawyering will be of little consolation in the aftermath of a life term without parole, Carl’s memory deserves better than what is offered here.
If Mark was eating with his parents at the time of the crime, the defense would have presented it either at trail or on habeas corpus. Significantly, his parents did not contend that they had been with Mark at the time of the crime when defending Mark before the trial. Mark did not mention it when he spoke with detectives after his arrest. Perhaps, that is why things have shifted to say that Mark was off planet during the murder.
Mark also alleges that during closing argument, the prosecutor introduced evidence of a misleading receipt to falsely show that Mark ate with the teens on the afternoon of the crime. This argument was not reported at the time and it would have been highly improper to introduce new evidence during argument.
Mark has long struggled to provide a defense. In another interview with Kerry, Mark asserted, “They wouldn’t let [science fiction writer] PK Dick testify or provide [a] real alibi.” (Cassidy, 4th Interview.) This statement was problematic since Dick died before the crime was committed. Perhaps Mark realized this and changed his story for the present interview. The many conflicting stories does Mark no good.
Regardless, the alibi he now presents would not necessarily have absolved Mark of guilt, since he did not need to have been present during the crime to have aided, abetted, or instigated it.
Perhaps most important, Mark calls into question Baldwin’s death and suggests that he may have entered a witness protection program. Those who found the body, identified it, and testified about the autopsy would be surprised to learn this. It is a callous thing to say under any circumstance. Mark still has things to learn.