CINCINNATI – The one-time Lachey’s bar manager who was shot on the street after leaving work came face-to-face with her assailant and said it wasn’t what she expected.
“It was a little weird, to be honest,” Ellie Richardson told WCPO’s Breanna Molloy after watching Lavoris Hightower take a plea deal in court Friday. "I thought I’d be angry and want to glare at him, but it wasn’t like that. It was more like I knew there was going to be an end, but I was OK with it.”
Richardson, 27, said she was surprised that Hightower, 36, appeared remorseful and apologized to her, because she expected him to be hostile. The young mother said she doesn’t forgive him and she believes he deserved a longer sentence, but she wants to put the incident behind her.
Richardson said she has recovered from being shot in the face outside the bar - since closed - on Nov. 23. Surgeons had to remove the bullet and rebuild the right side of her jaw.
While Richardson was walking to her car about 3:20 a.m., she was almost struck by a van driven by Hightower, prosecutors said. She approached the van, and then Hightower shot her.
Friday’s court appearance gave her closure, Richardson said, even though she thought Hightower should have gotten more than eight years in prison.
"It definitely wasn't exactly the number that I wanted, but I'm happy that it's over,” Richardson said.
She said she has been reading a lot of comments on social media from people who say eight years isn’t enough. But she said she feared he could have gotten less by going to trial.
“I’m OK with it and I’m at peace with it and I’m hoping that everyone else in Cincinnati can have peace with it as well,” Richardson said. "I don't want to dwell over it and I don't want the city of Cincinnati to sit and dwell over it either.
"I really don't have anything to be upset about for myself. I'm doing well. I still do physical therapy once a week, and I started nursing school.
"The way I try to look at life now," Richardson said, "is you can't change the past. It's all about how you take what has been presented to you."