Friday, June 4, Worcester County Circuit Court Judge Thomas C. Groton III sentenced Richard L. Blanks, 42, of Cambridge, to life in prison for the 2004 murder of Tyshika Lavonne Askins.
Blanks was convicted of first-degree murder March 12 by a jury following a four-day trial in Worcester County Circuit Court.
Askins was found strangled and beaten to death in her Cambridge apartment on June 7, 2004, at the age of 22. Blanks was convicted of Askins' murder in 2006, but the case was sent back for re-trial two years later.
"We are gratified he received the life in prison sentence," said Dorchester County State's Attorney William Jones, who prosecuted the case along with Assistant State's Attorney Bridget M. Wyant. "Judge Groton saw the brutal nature of this case and delivered a justifiable sentence."
Blanks was previously tried in Dorchester County Circuit Court in 2006. Then a jury convicted Blanks of first-degree murder and first-degree assault for Askins' death; however, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled in November 2008 that Blanks was entitled to a new trial.
The court ruled the judge in that case improperly allowed then-Dorchester County State's Attorney Michelle Barnes to ask questions violating Blanks' attorney-client privileges.
A change of venue request was also granted and the case was moved to Worcester County, where Blanks was indicted on June 26, 2009, on the charge of first-degree murder.
Askins' body was discovered in her Leonards Grove apartment on June 7, 2004, by former boyfriend Alonzo Dennis Jr. She sustained injuries to her upper body and head, the result of blunt force trauma.
Dennis originally was charged with Askins' murder, charges which were dropped after a DNA analysis was performed.
In September 2005 Alexander Mankevich, a latent print examiner for Maryland State Police, matched fingerprints taken from a carton of orange juice found in Askins' apartment to Blanks. He was arrested Sept. 27, 2005, and charged with murder
Jones said Cambridge police investigators, two forensic DNA scientists and a fingerprint expert testified for the state during the March trial. "Cambridge police investigators have to be commended on their work in the case," Jones said after Blanks was convicted March 12. "They did an exemplary job investigating the case, which led to a murder conviction."
Tyshika L. Askins was born Aug. 23, 1981 in Cambridge. She was a 1999 graduate of Cambridge-South Dorchester High School and was employed as a CNA/Medicine Aide at Mallard Bay Nursing Home in Cambridge.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.