A jury Friday night acquitted Thomas W. Randolph Jr. in the 1986 death of his wife - a death prosecutors claimed was a calculated effort to reap a windfall life insurance payment, but which defense attorneys argued was a suicide.

The jury deliberated four and a half hours, returning the not-guilty verdict on the murder charge shortly before 10 p.m. In acquitting Randolph of plotting and carrying out the murder of his wife, Rebecca Randolph, the jury also acquitted him of a second-degree felony charge of filing a false insurance claim.Randolph, 34, of Roy, could have faced the death penalty in the Nov. 7, 1986, death of his wife. She was found shot once in the head in their Clearfield home.

A former legal researcher and investigator for the two attorneys who defended him, Randolph collected $250,000 in insurance benefits 13 days after his wife's death.

"Thank you all. You made the right decision," Randolph told the jury when the verdicts were announced. His family members were elated at the decision but the two dozen friends and members of Becky Randolph's family in the courtroom appeared shocked and angry.

Judge Rodney S. Page thanked the jurors, who sat through two days of jury selection followed by six days of testimony spread over the past two weeks. The judge told them he supports their decision, based on the evidence presented.

Defense attorney John Caine said Becky Randolph's death was an obvious suicide and the case should never have been brought to trial.

"We're very happy, we're pleased," Caine said. "The jury was a tough bunch of people and looked at the evidence carefully."

Bailiffs cleared the courtroom and the hallway outside of it before escorting Randolph back to the Davis County Jail across the parking lot from the courthouse.

Randolph is still being held in jail without bail on a first-degree felony conspiracy to commit murder charge. He is charged with trying to arrange the murder of Eric Tarantino, who was the prosecution's prime witness against him in the murder case.

On the stand Friday, Randolph denied shooting his wife and making it look like a suicide.

"Did you kill your wife, Becky?" asked co-defense attorney Bernie Allen.

"No, I did not," Randolph replied, wrapping up his second day of testimony.

Under cross-examination by Davis County Attorney Mel Wilson, Randolph admitted he hasn't worked in the two and a half years since his wife's death and had bought two homes and a Porsche.

In closing remarks to the jury, Wilson said Tom Randolph had plotted for a whole summer in 1984 with his friend, Eric Tarantino, on how to kill Becky Randolph and make it look like an accident eventually coming up with eight or nine different plots ranging from a fall in her bathtub to a hunting accident.

When Tarantino warned Becky Randolph about the plots and told others about Tom Randolph's plans, Tom Randolph responded by savagely beating Tarantino, putting him in the hospital, Wilson said.

Defense attorney John Caine, in an impassioned final statement to the jury, said Becky Randolph's death was a tragedy but clearly the act of a depressed woman "seeing her life crumbling around her."

She suffered from cocaine addiction and other drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and had attempted suicide six months before, Caine said.