WARREN, Pa. – A Tidioute man will be spending at least the next 33 years in prison for homicide.
Randy Lee Poole, 299 Main St., Tidioute, was sentenced to a total of 33 to 66 years in a state correctional institution Friday morning by Judge Gregory Hammond for charges related to the Dec. 20 murder of Kathleen Sweeney, 56, of Davey Hill Road, also of Tidioute.
Hammond sentenced Poole to between 20 and 40 years in a state correctional institution on a count of third-degree criminal homicide, between 78 and 156 months in a state correctional institution on a charge of burglary, between 60 and 120 months in a state correctional institution on a charge of persons not to possess firearms and between 18 and 36 months in a state correctional institution on a charge of fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer. All sentence will run consecutively. Poole was also sentenced to submit a DNA sample and to pay $11,746.83 in fines, costs and restitution.
Sweeney was found dead in her car of two gunshot wounds to the head following a 911 call from a concerned friend.
Karen Soukup testified during a hearing in January that Sweeney had called her because Poole had been in her home, “drunk and gooned out.”
According to Soukup, while she was on the phone, Poole returned to Sweeney’s home and ordered her to, “get in there and lie down,” repeatedly. After hearing Sweeney begging for help, Soukup said the line went dead. Soukup then called 911.
Police arrived at approximately 3 p.m. to find Poole slumped forward in her vehicle.
Video taken the day of the murder shows Poole drinking at a local establishment before he appears to buy and ingest drugs. Minutes later, Poole then left the establishment in the direction of Sweeney’s house. Approximately 15 minutes later, he returned to the bar.
At approximately 7:25 p.m., police observed Poole in a red Chevrolet pickup truck on Tidioute-Enterprise Road. Following a short pursuit, Poole wrecked the vehicle approximately 2 miles west of Tidioute Borough before fleeing on foot into the woods.
Approximately five hours later, Police located Poole and took him into custody before transporting him for treatment of injuries sustained in the crash.
Poole later admitted to being on bath salts at the time of the incident and maintains he does not remember the events leading to his arrest.
John Parroccini told Hammond the case was, “A matter that was fueled by Mr. Poole’s drug use,” adding, “He fully cooperated with police from the time of his arrest.”
“Mr. Poole smoked himself crazy on bath salts and 13 minutes later, in a drug-induced rage, committed an execution-style, double-tap murder,” Warren County District Attorney Ross McKeirnan said prior to sentencing.
“If you look at his comments to the court, it’s a lie. He said he used bath salts for the first time, but he’s a convicted meth user. We don’t want to see Poole on the streets ever again.”
Sweeney’s sister, Judith Fry spoke to the court prior to sentencing.
“We shouldn’t even be here today,” Fry said. “I personally believe, for this man to take off from work early, go have some drinks, do some drugs, that he already had a plan in place.
“It was a horrific act that turned our world … upside down. We want to know why.”
Poole maintained he did not recall the events saying, “I’ve lost a whole day … If I did this, I apologize to her family, the town of Tidioute, my girlfriend’s family. I still don’t know what happened.”
Prior to passing sentence, Hammond told Poole, “I cannot begin to imagine the terror Ms. Sweeney lived the last few minutes of her life in … You caused devastation to an entire, peaceful community by your actions … Your use of bath salts provides no mitigation in this case. It’s my belief the bath salts didn’t change the person you are. It brought out your violent nature … In short, I find nothing in your case to mitigate your sentence or run any of your sentences concurrent.”
Following sentencing, McKeirnan gave a statement on the case.”I think this case is a perfect example how gun control laws don’t prevent crime, because he was a convicted felon,” McKeirnan said. “I want to note how devastating this is on the surviving family and the whole community. The sentence of 33 years, because of Mr. Poole’s age, means he is likely to die in jail.”
If Poole is released after serving his minimum sentence, he would be 85.