BUFFALO - An Ohio man who was acquitted 15 years ago of a murder charge in Cattaraugus County has now admitted to the love-triangle killing.
Randall Delbert Knight, 56, of Akron, pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to traveling and using facilities in interstate commerce in connection with the murder-for-hire killing of Andie Gasper of Yorkshire in 1994.
As part of his plea, Knight implicated Gasper's wife, Cheryl Gasper, with whom he was having an affair at the time.
Both Knight and Mrs. Gasper were arrested in May after detectives from the Cattaraugus County Cold Case Squad renewed their focus on the stabbing.
On July 3, 1994, Andie Gasper was found dead with a single stab wound to the chest while he was still seat belted in his pickup truck behind the old Ames department store on Route 16 in the town of Yorkshire. He was 32 years old at the time and had been married to Cheryl Gasper for roughly 10 years.
Shortly after the murder, Knight was charged with Gasper's murder but acquitted of the crime by a Cattaraugus County jury in 1995.
The federal charges he is now facing are different, and therefore don't violate the "double jeopardy" rule which states that in the United States, people accused of crimes can not be tried twice for the same charges in relation to the same crime.
"Knight's plea is the result of the perseverance and dedication of the law enforcement officers who refused to give up," said U.S. Attorney William Hochul Jr. "While Randall Knight's guilty plea does not bring Andie Gasper back, it will hopefully provide some closure to his family.
This murder-for-hire case is the first ever filed in the Western District of New York and is but one more prosecution of a crime of violence at the federal level."
As part of Knight's plea deal, he has agreed to testify against Mrs. Gasper, who allegedly asked him to kill her husband in the first place.
According to Cattaraugus County District Attorney Lori Rieman, an undisclosed plea offer has been made to Mrs. Gasper, although her office has yet to hear anything back from her lawyers. Mrs. Rieman also said that following the murder in 1994, Mrs. Gasper and Knight discontinued their affair and only spoke once since.
"The fact that so much time has passed since the murder gives promise to everyone that no matter how old a case is, justice can be found," Mrs. Rieman said. "Good old-fashioned police work and persistence brought this case forward and I'm happy that justice has finally been done."
James H. Robertson, the FBI special agent in charge of the investigation, said homicide is one of the most "egregious criminal acts" and that cooperation between different police agencies made the difference in the case.
"It is incumbent upon law enforcement to devote the commensurate amount of time and resources to investigate these crimes to ensure justice is served," Robertson said. "As we have seen repeatedly in Western New York, during this investigation, multiple law enforcement agencies collaborated together contributing resources and talent to achieve this successful result."
The case was brought forward after a thorough investigation contributed to by the Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Office Cold Case Unit, FBI, U.S. Attorney's Office and the Cattaraugus County District Attorney's Office.
Mrs. Gasper pleaded innocent to second-degree murder and remains incarcerated in the Cattaraugus County Jail. But according to court papers obtained by The Associated Press, she has confessed to conspiring in her husband's killing to collect a $100,000 life insurance policy.
Knight pleaded guilty to crossing state lines to commit murder and is scheduled to be sentenced on November 3 at 9 a.m. in Buffalo.