Thomas Randolph, a Las Vegas man accused of hiring a hitman to kill his sixth wife and then killing the hitman, has waited nearly nine years for his double murder trial.
Last week, so he would appear clean-cut for a jury, a barber cut off the long gray-white locks that had been growing while he sat in the Clark County Detention Center, facing the death penalty.
This week, the 62-year-old made an unusual request. Instead of a traditional shirt and tie most incarcerated male defendants wear during trial, he wants to put on his Tony Romo jersey.
He knows that the quarterback retired last year after 14 seasons in the NFL. Number 9 lost 44-6 to the rival Philadelphia Eagles on the final Sunday in Dec. 2008, the last game Randolph could have seen as a free man. He didn’t reveal whether donning the attire was intended as a legal tactic.
When asked why Randolph requested the sports apparel, one of his lawyers, Special Public Defender Clark Patrick, said simply: “Because he’s a Cowboys fan.”
It’s unclear whether any of the 16 jurors, including four alternates, are fans of the team. Attorneys didn’t ask about that during voir dire.
Randolph is unlikely to get his wish of wearing a blue star on short sleeves in court, as the uniform top would have to be processed through the jail as part of his trial wardrobe, defense lawyers said.
Randolph has indicated that he would like to take the witness stand. Jurors are expected to listen to opening statements in the trial Friday morning and possibly hear Randolph’s testimony before the end of the month.
Prosecutors plan to tell jurors that three of Randolph’s other wives also are dead, two from apparent illness.
Randolph married his first wife, with whom he has children, in 1976. Within a day of their divorce in 1983, he married Becky Gault.
Randolph was charged with murder and later acquitted in Gault’s 1986 death in Utah, which had been ruled a suicide. But he later plead guilty to tampering with a witness for conspiring with a fellow inmate to kill Eric Tarantino, who was the prosecution’s prime witness against him.
He told each of his four future wives about his acquittal. His defense attorney at the time said Randolph’s wife had suffered from a cocaine addiction and had previously attempted suicide.
Randolph met 38-year-old Michael James Miller at a convenience store in January 2008, and prosecutors have alleged Randolph quickly started grooming Miller to kill Sharon Clausse. Randolph told authorities he hired Miller as a handyman to work on his northwest valley home at 6517 Rancho Sante Fe Drive. But Miller’s cousin has testified in previous court hearings that Randolph gave Miller prescription drugs to sell.
Prosecutors have said that Randolph wanted Clausse dead to collect more than $400,000 in insurance, a similar motive alleged in the death of Gault.
On Thursday, District Judge Stefany Miley referred to “very strong similarities” in the two cases.
Prosecutors have fought to make sure jurors know about what’s referred to as “the Utah case” before deciding on Randolph’s guilt in the Las Vegas killings.
“Randolph killed Miller to eliminate the possibility of anyone ever testifying against him regarding the murder of his wife,” prosecutors wrote in court papers. “Randolph learned from a previous mistake.”
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Thomas Randolph trial
Thomas Randolph said an intruder killed his sixth wife, and then he shot the intruder. But authorities didn’t buy his story, partly because of similarities with the death of one of his previous wives.
Randolph was acquitted of a 1986 murder charge, but pleaded guilty to tampering with a witness for conspiring with a cellmate to kill the prosecution’s star witness. Prosecutors said he made several different plans to kill his second wife.
“They spoke about a hunting accident, a push off of a cliff into a river, a bathtub accident, chloroforming her, a car accident, a suicide, a trailer fire and a home invasion gone wrong,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Jacqueline Bluth said Thursday.