Crime Scene Confidential is investigating the murder of Richard Armitage, a lawyer in Kansas City, Missouri, who was beaten to death in his downtown office in 2000.
The police pounced on his business partner Richard Buchli as the most likely person to have killed Armitage, and a jury initially agreed with this assessment. However, after spending five years in prison, Buchli had his conviction reversed.
On May 5, 2000, 49-year-old Armitage was found severely wounded in his law office. He had been beaten with a blunt object, though this weapon was never found. He was transported to a hospital but sadly passed away a couple of days later.
The police started examining business partner Buchli, and they found Armitage’s blood on his clothes and shoes, which led to him being charged with first-degree murder. Buchli argued that the blood got on him as he had found the body and had tried to revive Armitage.
The police also learned that Buchli was in financial difficulties and had actually taken out a life insurance policy worth more than $100,000 on the victim.
However, there was a complication. Telephone records showed that Armitage had been on the telephone at 2:02 pm, but a surveillance camera showed Buchli leaving the building premises at 2:05 pm. He would not have had the time to beat his partner to death, hide the murder weapon, and ride the elevator downstairs in just three minutes.
The prosecution was saved when maintenance worker, Paul Hoglen, came forward to say that he had seen Buchli leave at 2:10 pm. The clock on the surveillance camera was deemed to be wrong, and Buchli was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
Richard Buchli later found innocent of killing Richard Armitage
But that was from the end of this case. It later emerged that the prosecution had claimed that a large part of the surveillance tape had been erased, but this turned out to be a lie. Hoglen was also found to have lied about seeing Armitage leave.
In 2006, an appeals court concluded that Buchi’s defense had not adequately investigated either Hoglen’s claims or the surveillance tape. Hoglen was also revealed as a possible suspect; he had keys to the office, Armitage had complained about him to his employers, and he had access to blunt weapons.
Judge Sandra Midkiff said: “Paul Hoglen had the motive, means and opportunity to commit the attack on Mr. Armitage, and engaged in a substantial amount of suspicious conduct, yet none of this evidence was investigated by the State or discovered by Mr. Buchli’s counsel.”
Buchli’s conviction was subsequently quashed, and he was released. In 2013, he began practicing law again. Armitage’s murder remains unsolved.
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Crime Scene Confidential airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.