The defense will open its case Wednesday in the murder trial of Thomas W. Randolph Jr., 33, Roy, who is charged in the death of his wife, Rebecca.

The trial recessed Tuesday so 2nd District Court could handle its normal calendar.As the trial progressed Monday, jurors listened intently to a tale of conspiracy and violence - a tale prosecutors say ultimately led to the murder of Rebecca Randolph on Nov. 7, 1986, in her Clearfield home.

Investigators say Thomas W. Randolph Jr. collected $250,000 insurance payment after the police and the state medical examiner ruled the death a suicide. Prosecutors contend Randolph killed his wife for the money.

If convicted of first-degree murder in his wife's slaying, Randolph faces the death penalty.

A one-time friend of Randolph, Eric Tarantino, told the jury that Randolph lured him into a conspiracy to murder Mrs. Randolph, but that the plot was never executed.

Tarantino said he met Randolph while employed at a cabinet-making company and the two soon became close friends, partied and hunted together. He said Randolph approached him in the summer of 1983 with the request to help him "rough up" a person who had been hassling Randolph. Over time, the discussion evolved to a murder conspiracy to "eliminate that person from society - kill them," said Tarantino.

He said Randolph promised him $10,000 following the murder. They then began aseries of discussions centered on ways to kill the person, including a hunting accident, a fire, even an accidental fall.

But Tarantino said he soured on the plot when he learned the intended victim was Randolph's wife. He said he wanted to pull out of the conspiracy but agreed to continue when Randolph said it was too late and he knew too much.

Tarantino said that while he continued the plotting, he never intended to help complete the act.

Tarantino said he told his wife and several acquaintances about the plot, but he didn't think they believed him. He said that when Randolph learned he had made the statements, he beat him severely and forced him to recant his statements. He told the jury he left Utah in 1984 after warning Mrs. Randolph of the conspiracy because he feared for his own safety.

Defense attorney John Caine challenged Tarantino's testimony, citing numerous examples where he had lied to police and insurance officials to protect himself and Randolph.

Tarantino recounted one murder scenario in which a fire was to be started in a bathroom area of the mobile home in Riverdale. He recalled one evening in which Randolph seemed in a jovial mood as the two left the mobile home. He said he noticed Randolph's son was now sleeping in the car and not the mobile home.

He said when Randolph dropped him off at his home, he remembered the discussion of the fire scenario and called the fire department.

He testified that Randolph was responsible for setting the fire but under cross examination he admitted that he later told his wife he had set the fire. He said he made that statement because he had been drinking.

He said he told an insurance agent the following day that he did not set the fire and he did not know how it got started. He said his statements were influenced by the fact that Randolph was present during the conversation and had a gun in his possession.

Tarantino told the jury he and Randolph also discussed a suicide scenario but rejected the idea because Randolph said a suicide would make the insurance claims uncollectable. He said a few weeks later he was with Randolph at Randolph's parents' home at which time Randolph played a record by Rod Stewart called, "Foolish Behavior," which tells the story of a man who kills his wife and makes it look like suicide. He said Randolph specifically asked him into the home to hearthat one song.

Caine challenged Tarantino on several phases of the testimony, getting Tarantino to admit that he had repeatedly lied to friends, police and other responsible parties to cover his involvement in the alleged conspiracy.

Police contacted Tarantino in the fall of 1988 at which time he was offered immunity from prosecution for the arson incident involving the mobile home and from any consideration of prosecution on conspiracy to commit murder charges in Weber County.

Davis County prosecutors say that they have not entered into any kind of agreement with Tarantino.