Teen who admits to murdering newsman has violent criminal past

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by Maggie Crane

KMOV.com

Posted on May 13, 2011 at 8:49 PM

Updated Friday, May 13 at 9:17 PM

(KMOV) -- A man who admitted to murdering a newspaper manager earlier this week has a violent criminal past that has some wondering why he was not jailed for his previous offenses.

Rico Paul told police that he shot Paul Reiter when the south St. Louis man interrupted a burglary.

Rico Paul is 18 years old and already has six charges against him as an adult.  Four are violent felonies.  It begs the question, had the system been tougher the first time around, would an innocent man have died?

Rico Paul was supposed to be in front of a judge on May 3 for stealing.  He didn't show.  Just six days later, he admits that he gunned down Paul Reiter.

During all of this, Rico Paul was still on probation for a robbery and assault he committed last spring.  He was sentenced to time served in October even though the circuit attorney asked for 10 years in prison, based on his criminal past as a juvenile.  Then, Rico Paul was picked up for stealing in April but was released on bond and not charged with violating his probation.  That has the city's leader blasting judges for failing to get tough on crime.

"If we are too lenient on these criminals, then people are going to know that whenever you want to commit a crime, you come to the city of St. Louis," Mayor Francis Slay says.  "I don't believe that there is any other jurisdiction in the state of Missouri that is as lenient on criminals as the city of St. Louis, and that's wrong."

Rico Paul is now behind bars, and this time he's not going anywhere.  He's being held without bond for charges of first-degree murder, armed criminal action and attempted burglary.

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