By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
The official sentencing hearing for the man who pleaded guilty to killing 50-year-old Teresa White in 2012 assured he would get the 50-year sentence he received.
Jeffrey W. Sweeney, 47, appeared with his attorneys, Roger Gibbs and Jennifer Milligan, before Judge Tom Jensen in Laurel County Circuit Court Friday.
On March 29, 2012, White was discovered dead in her burned-out home on Newby Lane west of London.
Shortly before midnight that night, Kentucky State Trooper First Class Don Trosper said a neighbor called 911 to report smoke pouring from her home.
Despite a warning from dispatchers, a window was eventually broken by a concerned citizen — which sent the home into a full blaze.
Firefighters battled the inferno until the early morning hours. White’s body was discovered inside the residence, and she was pronounced dead at the scene.
Trosper added that an autopsy showed White was killed from blunt force trauma — prior to the fire. Law enforcement felt then Sweeney set the fire to cover up her murder.
Although Sweeney was provided an opportunity to speak in his own behalf Friday, he declined comment. Gibbs explained to the court they hoped Jensen would follow the Commonwealth’s recommendation.
Jensen explained the specifics of his sentence.
Sweeney faced a four-count indictment. For White’s murder, he received 50 years. For the second count, first-degree robbery, he received 20 years. For the third count of tampering with evidence, he received five years. For the final count, first-degree arson, Sweeney received 20 years. All those sentences, Jensen explained, would run concurrently.
All court costs and jail fees for Sweeney were waived by Jensen.
After Sweeney’s five-minute appearance, he was remanded back into the Laurel County Correctional Center. From there, he will be placed into a prison with the state’s Department of Corrections.
“This is one of those cases that no matter how much time (is given to the guilty party), you still have the death of a community member,” Commonwealth Attorney Jackie Steele said after he pleaded guilty. “Although the family is content with the outcome, there will always be a void for them that will never be filled.”