'Horrorcore' suspect appears in court
An aspiring rapper who sang about the thrill of killing before being charged in the bludgeoning deaths of his girlfriend and three others is feeling remorse about the deaths, his attorney said after a hearing Tuesday.
Richard "Sam" McCroskey, 21, of Castro Valley, Calif., faces capital murder charges in the Sept. 18 deaths of his girlfriend, 16-year-old Emma Niederbrock; her parents, Presbyterian minister Mark Niederbrock and Longwood University professor Debra Kelley; and Emma's 18-year-old friend Melanie Wells of Inwood, W.Va.
McCroskey has yet to enter a plea to the charges. On Tuesday, Prince Edward County Circuit Judge Richard Blanton set a Sept. 20 motions hearing in the case. McCroskey's attorneys said he could go to trial as early as October.
“He's still feeling remorse about this whole thing,” McCroskey's court-appointed attorney Cary Bowen said after the hearing. “It's a bad situation for everybody.
“Sleep doesn't come easy.” McCroskey, dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit and a slouchy white undershirt, smiled as reporters yelled questions outside the courthouse and again inside as he approached his seat, shackled at his feet. Bowen called it a nervous smile.
“This isn't something that he's real proud about,” Bowen said.
McCroskey has remained in isolation at Piedmont Regional Jail since he was apprehended at the Richmond airport Sept. 19 while attempting to fly back to California.
McCroskey met Emma Niederbrock online through their interest in “horrorcore” music, which sets lyrics about rape, murder and mutilation to hip-hop beats. McCroskey, a Web site designer and music promoter, had recently began rapping under the name “Syko Sam.”
On his MySpace page, McCroskey stands before a Gothic church in a lightning storm, a hatchet in his raised hand with his face obscured by a skull bandanna. He sings of killing people slowly and watching them die. In one song, he growls about the “evil voices inside my head.”
McCroskey flew to Virginia to visit Emma, and her parents drove them and Wells to a horrorcore music festival in Michigan Sept. 12. Police found their bodies six days later after Wells' parents became worried that she didn't return home.
Court papers show investigators recovered several possible weapons, including a ball-peen hammer and a wood-splitting maul. Three of the four bodies were found in a downstairs bedroom and the other was found in a room upstairs.
Attorneys are still awaiting DNA, cell phone and other evidence.
McCroskey has not made a statement to police, but Bowen said he had been cooperative with his attorneys.
At first McCroskey didn't understand the “total gravity” of the situation, Bowen said, but “every day it's still sinking in.” Commonwealth's Attorney James Ennis has not said whether he would seek the death penalty. Ennis refused to comment after the hearing.
“Everybody recognizes that in this case he may see fit to do that,” Bowen said.
Attorneys are awaiting a mental health evaluation, but Bowen said he thought he had no reason to doubt McCroskey's competence.
McCroskey's attorneys have asked that the trial be moved away from Farmville, a small college town about 50 miles southwest of Richmond
This item has been updated since it was first published.
-- Associated Press
Washington Post Editors
June 22, 2010; 2:55 PM ET
Categories: From the Courthouse , Updates , Virginia
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