Pleading guilty to the same charge of witness tampering that put him in prison more than a year ago, a former Clearfield man Tuesday had his new prison sentence stayed and was ordered into a halfway house instead.
Thomas W. Randolph Jr., 34, pleaded guilty to the third-degree felony in a revived plea bargain with the Davis County attorney's office.In return for his guilty plea, a first-degree felony charge of conspiracy to commit murder and a drug charge were dismissed.
And Randolph's new zero-to-five-year prison term was stayed by Judge Rodney S. Page, who ordered Randolph into the Orange Street halfway house facility in Salt Lake City for two to three months.
Randolph will also undergo drug and alcohol counseling, and on his release from the halfway house he will be put on intensive surveillance parole, which includes electronic monitoring of his movements.
The hearing in 2nd District Court brings to an end a series of trials, hearings and appeals on charges ranging from murder to drug dealing that began in 1986.
Randolph's wife, Becky, was found dead in their Clearfield home in November 1986 - shot once in the head with a gun found on the bed beside her body. Clearfield Police investigated the incident and, despite not being able to locate the bullet that killed the woman, initially ruled it a suicide.
Two years later, a witness stepped forth and implicated Randolph in the killing, telling police that Randolph had tried to kill his wife once before by setting their mobile home ablaze and making it appear accidental.
The witness, Eric Tarantino, testified that Randolph tried to get him to help in the killing, rehearsing several ways to make Becky's death appear accidental so he could collect on her life insurance.
Randolph was charged in November 1988 with criminal homicide, a first-degree felony that carries the death penalty, and with insurance fraud, a third-degree felony. He was held in the Davis County Jail without bond.
Two months later, Randolph and his then-girlfriend, Wendy Z. Moore, were both charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Using an informant and an undercover drug agent, detectives said Randolph used a telephone in the jail to arrange to have Tarantino killed to keep him from testifying at the upcoming murder trial.
Moore was charged because, according to police, she acted as a courier, delivering money and the title to a car as payment to the agent. Detectives said Randolph also promised the agent a large shipment of cocaine and charged him with arranging for the distribution of drugs, also a felony.
In April 1989, after a five-day trial, a jury found Randolph not guilty of the murder and insurance fraud charges. But faced with another conspiracy-to-commit-murder charge, also a first-degree felony, Randolph was taken directly from the courtroom where he had been acquitted back to the jail.
In June 1989, a plea bargain was hammered out between the county attorney's chief prosecutor, Carvel Harward, and Randolph's defense lawyer, John Caine.
Randolph agreed to plead guilty to witness tampering, a third-degree felony, in return for having the conspiracy and drug charges dismissed. The conspiracy charge against Moore would also be dropped.
Judge Douglas L Cornaby, citing the seriousness of the offense, sentenced Randolph to zero to five years in the state prison. At his first parole hearing six months later, the parole board, also noting what it said is the seriousness of the crime, ordered Randolph to serve the maximum five years of his term.
Randolph began filing appeals and asking for a new sentencing hearing, charging that he was being punished for the death of his wife despite his acquittal by a jury.
He also asked for a grand jury investigation of the police agencies that prosecuted him, charging they conspired against him by manufacturing and suppressing evidence. Rebuffed on that request, Randolph filed a civil suit against several Northern Utah police agencies, a suit that is still pending.
In an appeal of his sentencing last fall, Randolph told Cornaby that he was high on cocaine and alcohol when he appeared in court to plead guilty to the witness tampering charge and didn't fully understand what he was doing.
Most of the $300,000 he received in insurance benefits from his wife's death went for drugs or legal bills, Randolph told the judge, saying he was heavily addicted to cocaine. Cornaby rejected the appeal.
Randolph filed a new motion with the state appeals court, saying the statement of facts read into the court transcript outlining the witness tampering incident was too vague and inaccurate.
The court agreed, ordering the case sent back to district court.
The ruling, Harward now says, is ironic. Harward normally states the facts of a case when a defendant pleads guilty, reading them into the court record.
But on this day, Randolph's defense attorney, Caine, related the facts. It was that entry into the court record that the court of appeals found to be vague and inaccurate, the basis of Randolph's appeal.
A week ago, Randolph appeared back in district court and the elements of the plea bargain were solidified. Randolph agreed to plead guilty again but on the understanding that after having spent the past 26 months in jail or in prison, he would be sent to a halfway house instead.
Tuesday, Page agreed. He sentenced Randolph to zero to five years in prison and fined him $5,000, then stayed the prison term and all but $1,250 of the fine. He ordered Randolph into the halfway house for a minimum of two months, to be followed by intensive supervision by parole agents.
During his prison time, Randolph has been taking college courses via television, maintaining a 3.9 grade point average. A former investigator for the Weber County public defender's office and for Caine, Randolph has expressed an interest in finishing college and then going to law school.