Update: 8/14/2013 7:00 P.M.
"We lost him...and Rick got to walk out of there a free man, after serving 1,060 days."
The words of the victim's mother, Jeri Williams, who says she and her family were opposed to the plea deal which resulted in Richard Poore being sentenced Monday to time served.
But while Poore, who we interviewed by phone in North Carolina home, did agree to the plea to voluntary manslaughter, he also gave his side of what happened to his son, Ricky, on an April day in 1981.
"My son basically started to choke," Poore recounted, "and the first autopsy said it was SIDS, )(Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) meaning I found him before he totally expired. But I did everything I could to resuscitate my son."
The basis for the plea agreement was that there was insufficient evidence for a new trial, something Williams can't understand, citing the 2008 trial in which Poore was convicted.
"There was the same evidence that was presented in Pleasants County, other than (former West Virginia medical examiner) Dr. Kaplan," Williams maintains. "But Dr. Mellin was the one who wrote the first papers. All he had to do was read what his conclusion was."
A statement issued by Poore on Tuesday says the original autopsy concluded there were no grounds to charge Poore in his son's death. Poore says the state medical examiner and investigators years later disregarded those findings.
"There were entire pages of stuff that was blacked out that weren't provided to me until after I was convicted and the Supreme Court provided to me," Poore says. "It was definitely stuff I was entitled to."
Regardless of the evidence presented, Williams still believes the case should have gone to trial.
"But give us our chance," Williams pleaded. "If I had known it was going to end like this, I wouldn't have put my children and myself through the last seven years."
Williams says her family might seek a wrongful death suit against Poore.
Richard Poore Releases Statement On Plea Deal:
"I have a few things to say I would like the public in general and especially the hard working tax payers in WV to know. And to give a brief statement as to why and how it is that an innocent person is forced to plea to such a heinous charge.
Despite all of the rumors and allegation made Dr. Frost did a through and complete autopsy in 1981 and spoke with many Doctors and investigators, most importantly, specialists, most notable was a Neuro pathologist. Also, the investigation in 1981 was a very thorough investigation, with few exceptions. Both which concluded there was no grounds to charge anyone in the tragic loss of my son, Richard Alan Poore, Jr.
And the only thing Dr. Frost didn’t do was to sign his own report which was only to remain on file in his own office. But, he did maintain all reports and tissue sample in his office. Quite to the opposite of that in 1997 when Dr. Kaplan became involved. He destroyed the tissue samples and even the Neuro pathologists report, and Dr. Frost last page of his microscopic Brain notes.
Additionally Dr. Kaplan spoke with no one involved from 1981 nor other specialists. Likewise the police investigation that was conducted did much the same. Didn’t attempt to obtain any hospital records or speak with anyone outside the family or friends of the family. Cpl. Bauso provided an incomplete investigative report to family members 3 days prior to interviewing them, and still took no written or recorded statements, at the direction of Timothy Sweeney which was sitting prosecutor at the time. And I might add he did so knowing that they were potential State witness. Prior to that interview none of the allegations told were ever made and after that time those statements had 3 different versions, including portions that were known to be false, based on what was told in 1981. Still the former prosecutor and current prosecutor decided to use them which is a violation of the oath they swore. And the former prosecutor now Judge and current prosecutor both have still failed to provide me in writing certain evidence which proves violations by the former prosecutor.
And as if all of these things weren’t enough, the current Judge made recent rulings which he said on record he knew was error to rule on that manner, but that my option would be to appeal that the deliberate destruction of the tissue samples which with current testing would conclusively show if and when there was any trauma to my sons brain, was not enough to dismiss the indictment against me. To me that say’s, you will not receive a fair trial. Which being the Supreme court over turned my conviction under the former prosecutor in 2010, I understand what that meant.
And I lost my father while incarcerated in 2009, and my mother is now very elderly no. she married at a young age and remained with my father for well over 50 years until his death. She told me if I go back to jail, she goes back to jail, and I can not will not under these conditions risk that.
Everything that is stated here and much, much, more is documented, less say for the evidence that still the prosecutors have never turned over in writing, and I have been told will not be. And that is the former prosecutor told a State witness to withhold testimony, which they were under oath to tell the whole truth on the stand, and that statement was never known to me until just prior to the motions hearing last month. So, with all of these considerations and much against everything the facts I accepted the plea."
UPDATE: 08/12/2013 6:20 PM
In a plea deal reached Monday, Richard Poore was convicted in the 1981 shaking death of his son.
Poore was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter. He was sentenced to 1-5 years, with credit for time served.
He walked out of the courtroom a free man.
Poore had to be sentenced under the law as it existed in 1981, when his son, Ricky Poore died. He was convicted of murder in 2008, but the West Virginia Supreme Court overturned that verdict.
Attorneys for both the state and defense agreed the plea he entered, to voluntary manslaughter, was the best that could be worked out.
"Given the state of the evidence, given the changes in the law, I believe this represents the most plausible outcome at this time,"Luke Furbee, Special Prosecutor, said following Monday's plea hearing.
The sentence includes credit for time served. While he is to have no contact with the victim's family, the time has been served.
Senior Status Judge Larry Starcher said the costs of this case to the state and to the taxpayers up to this point was $150,000. But to the family of Ricky Poore, Junior, the cost may be far greater.
"To me, the cost was to the damage that was done to the family during the past 32 years," Furbee said. "You can't assign a cost of a value to that."
The child's mother expressed anger at Poore, and regret at leaving the child with him while going to work.
"He had blonde hair and beautiful blue eyes, and the last time I saw him that morning, he was looking at me," Jeri Williams recalled for the court. "I hope someday to get to hold him again, and tell him how very sorry I was that I ever left him that day."
Five years ago, after the original murder verdict, Williams and her family launched balloons to celebrate the outcome of Poore's trial. after his sentencing Monday, they just quietly left the courtroom.
The state will try to recover the court costs from Poore.
One of the reasons this case took as long as it did to prosecute is that, at first, two doctors found the extent of the child's injuries weren't enough for criminal charges.
A later examination reversed that decision.
Updated 5/28/2013 5:20 P.M.
The second trial of the same man accused of a 30-year old murder is set for this summer.
Richard Poore was charged in 2006 with the 1981 shaking death of his son.
He was convicted a year later, but that conviction was overturned by the West Virginia Supreme Court in 2010.
Tyler County Prosecutor Luke Furbee will be the special prosecutor.
Poore's trial is set for August 12th in Morgantown.
Updated 8/02/2012 6:25 P.M.
Richard Poore's second trial will not take place later this month.
A special judge earlier this week ruled that the re-trial of the Pleasants County man will be continued.
The court is considering a motion by Poore's attorney that the trial be moved out of the county.
Poore was convicted in 2007 of the death of his infant son in the 1980's, but that conviction was overturned by the West Virginia Supreme Court nearly two years ago.
There has not yet been a decision on the change of venue motion.
A hearing on the retrial of Pichard Poore has been continued, while Pleasants County's new prosecutor files paperwork to remove himself from the case.
At a hearing Tuesday, Carl Bryant was told by Poore's attorney, that he intends to ask Bryant to testify in the case.
Bryant recently replaced former prosecutor Tim Sweeney, who became judge of the circuit which includes Pleasants County. Sweeney also will not hear the Poore case because he was the prosecutor for Poore's original trial in 2007.
Poore was convicted in 2007 in the death of his infant son nearly 30 years ago.
That conviction was overturned in November by the West Virginia Supreme Court.