Poole Enters Guilty Plea

WARREN, Pa. – A Tidioute man pleaded guilty to murder Thursday.

Randy Poole, 52, could face a maximum of 77 years in prison after entering guilty pleas to third-degree criminal homicide, burglary, persons not to possess firearms, and fleeing and eluding, with regard to events of Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012.

On that date, Kathleen Sweeney was found dead in her car in her garage, shot twice at close range.

According to District Attorney Ross McKeirnan, Poole was “very anxious” to enter the plea.

McKeirnan said he discussed the plea agreement with the defendant’s family in advance and “outlined the commonwealth’s evidence against Poole.”

To prove first-degree murder, the prosecution must prove intent – premeditation, laying in wait, or similar conditions. Second-degree murder is committed while the defendant is engaged in the commission of particular felonies. Third-degree murder includes all other murders.

According to McKeirnan, the maximum sentence for third-degree murder is 40 years.

The maximums on the other charges are 20 years for burglary, 10 years for the firearms possession, and seven years for fleeing and eluding.

“I’m going to be asking for consecutive sentences on each of the felonies,” McKeirnan said.

He said the commonwealth could prove “with certainty the who, what, when and where facts but the ‘why’ will remain a mystery.”

Although a motive cannot be determined, McKeirnan said Poole admitted to consuming the designer drug known as bath salts on the day of the murder.

“Evidence also reveals the use of bath salts by Poole 13 minutes prior to an execution-style, close-range shooting,” he said. “We can only conclude that the bizarre violent behaviors preceded by bath salts ingestion tells us why Poole did what he admitted to today. There is no other fathomable motive.”

The firearms possession charge stems from Poole’s status as a convicted felon.

The weapon had not been recovered as of Thursday.

Judge Gregory Hammond did not specify a date for sentencing.