Police repeatedly arrest innocent woman due to mistaken identity

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by Adam Walser

WHAS11.com

Posted on August 31, 2010 at 6:31 PM

   LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- A Louisville woman says she was arrested by police, thrown in jail and went to court for crimes she never committed three times in the last year and a half because of her name.  The woman's name is Melissa Ann Richardson, but she's not the only woman with that name in Louisville.  Richardson says another Melissa Ann Richardson has been getting in lots of trouble and doesn't show up for court, which is making her life increasingly difficult.
   Whenever Melissa Ann Richardson leaves home, she has to have lots of documentation proving that she's Melissa Ann Richardson because recently she's been confused with a different Melissa Ann Richardson.  She is also white, has brown hair, green eyes and an October birthday.  The difference is that Melissa Ann Richardson has been arrested dozens of times for prostitution and drugs. “I don't see any resemblance and that's just because I don't want to be affiliated in any way with prostitution,” said Richardson.
   The other Melissa Ann Richardson also has an unfortunate habit of not showing up for court.  Twice last year, Melissa Ann Richardson was arrested, booked and had to go to court for the other woman's crimes. “They told me that it was done. They typed everything in. The clerk said ‘Okay, we're sorry. It won't happen again,’” said Richardson.  However, on Friday, Richardson said it happened again.
   She was stopped at a red light in a minivan in West Louisville when a police officer pulled her over and questioned her.  After checking her ID, the officer arrested Richardson on charges she says belong to the other woman.  The other Melissa Ann Richardson apparently even gave officers the first Melissa Ann's date of birth when she was arrested so it was back to jail.
   “Usually it's only been about eight hours. This past weekend, it was the worst of it. It was 33 hours,” Richardson said.  Police say the mix-ups can happen because right now, pictures aren't placed on e-warrants, which are displayed on officers' laptop computers so police rely on the information they're given. A Louisville Metro Corrections Department spokesperson says it's standard procedure to use a fingerprint scan on all prisoners who are booked.  It's unclear as to what happened in the latest case.
   As for Richardson, she'll keep carrying her makeshift purse.  “Thank you for not believing me, but I'm out. And if you arrest me again, I'm gonna get out again. But this time, I'm pursuing a different angle. I've called our attorney and we're gonna go that route,” Richardson said.
   Late this afternoon, we learned that part of the problem at the jail is that the records for both Melissa Ann Richardsons were apparently merged, leading them to believe they had the right suspect over the weekend.
   We tried to locate the other Melissa Ann Richardson to talk to her about the situation today, but like the police, we weren't able to find her.
 

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