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Friends give sword victim proper burial

A friend said the restaurant owners were touched by the simple plea in the 18-year-old's application.

"It said: 'Please sir, give me a job - life's been too hard for me,'" said Brittany McGee, 16, a cashier at Avone Brothers who helped get him the job. "They paid him extra and gave him free food 'cause they felt bad for him."

A charismatic ladies man and jokester, Richardson drew that spirit of generosity out of everyone, friends recalled during the Trinidad immigrant's wake at Papavero Funeral Home in Maspeth Friday.

"Basically the kid was our family," said a girl who identified herself as D.D. "He was just the type of person that you would look at and smile."

Richardson immigrated to Queens more than a year ago, staying with his mother in Ridgewood. They had a falling out after four months, friends said, because the teen was cutting class and fighting with his stepfather.

After being kicked out, he fell in with a crew of neighborhood kids, whom he relied on for shelter, clothes and food.

"He had a place to stay because of his friends," Venus Melendez said. "He had food because of his friends. He was clean because of his friends."

And he had a funeral because of his friends, who panhandled change to raise $3,300 for a proper burial.

It proves how the sprawling crew takes care of its own in life and death, friends said Friday.

Richardson was popular with the group that often partied and hung out at the Maspeth Avenue house where Richardson was crashing before he was killed. The morning after a barbecue there, friends said the teen got into an argument with another youth over a pillow.

Michael Desiderio, 18, of 54-43 66th St. in Maspeth was charged June 13 with second-degree murder for allegedly attacking Richardson with a long metal sword, slashing him across the head, face, right hand and neck, said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Desiderio bought the sword weeks ago and liked to whip out it out, Melendez said.

"He showed it off," she said. "He was always a little weird. He was always bugged out ... We really thought he was an ADD kid."

Like many of her friends, she was struggling to make sense of the ordeal.

"There must have been a problem between the two that nobody knew about," Melendez said. "It just escalated to something else."

Those closest to the two young men refused to speculate about what had happened, Friday.

"Our lips are sealed as far as he (Desiderio) goes," said a teen who called himself Yesto, one of dozens of mourners who paced the sidewalk outside of Richardson's open-casket wake.

Some wore T-shirts emblazoned with Richardson's smiling face and the epitaph "RIP Richard Richardson 1985-2004. Forget You Not Trini." Others hugged and sobbed, telling stories about their friend.

One young man who did not give his name recalled how the two would huddle in his Woodside bedroom recording rap tracks on the computer. He said one free-style Richardson spat over the instrumental of "The Setup" by Obie Trice proved eerily prophetic.

"In the song he said people were trying to cut him up," the friend said. He said, "People trying to cut my neck off/People trying to chop my deck off."

Another friend laughed about how Richardson was a slave to fashion, blowing his first paycheck the day before he was murdered on trendy jeans, sneakers and a shirt.

Yesto recalled how Richardson once tagged along with him to traffic court because his buddy had nothing better to do. That day Yesto was dressed in his Sunday best: a black, single-breasted suit made from 100 percent Italian wool.

"He was telling me how much he liked the suit," Yesto said, so he promised to help Richardson buy one someday so the two could hit the town like a couple of rat-packers.

That day never came.

But Yesto kept good on his word and sent his friend to eternity in style.

"I figured this was the last chance for me to rock a suit with him," he said. "So I got him basically the same suit I got on right here since he liked it so much."

Richardson was buried in it Saturday.

Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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