By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
Five decades in jail — that’s what 47-year-old Jeffrey Sweeney received as a sentence Wednesday morning in Laurel County Circuit Court.
Sweeney was slated for a jury trial Wednesday morning for the 2012 murder of 50-year-old Teresa A. White.
However, the trial was avoided after a plea deal was agreed upon.
Just after 9 a.m., Judge Tom Jensen stepped into the Laurel County Circuit courtroom.
The gallery was filled to capacity with potential jurors, and roll call for the jury pool began.
Toward the end of the roll call, defense attorneys Roger Gibbs and Jennifer Milligan entered the courtroom, and with them was Sweeney.
Without handcuffs and wearing a dress shirt and slacks, Sweeney sat flanked by his attorneys at the defense table, leaned back and waited for the roll call to end.
Once the roll call was complete, Commonwealth’s Attorney Jackie Steele, Gibbs and Milligan were asked to approach the bench. Jensen silenced the microphone, and after a short conversation, all three attorneys returned to their tables.
Jensen then spoke to the jury pool, explaining there would be a recess.
“Issues have come up that need discussed,” Jensen said, and asked potential jurors to return to the courtroom at 10 a.m.
Attorneys also filed out of the courtroom, leaving books and papers behind. On the Commonwealth’s table rested a large box almost overfilled with what appeared to be evidence — all pieces in the box were marked with red evidence tape.
As the 10 a.m. hour approached, both Gibbs and Milligan returned to the courtroom — without Sweeney.
Once jurors returned to their seats in the gallery, Steele and Judge Jensen then re-entered the courtroom.
Jensen spoke, informing the jury pool that a plea agreement had been reached.
Steele explained after court was recessed that Sweeney pleaded guilty to all counts listed on his June 2012 indictment — murder, first-degree robbery, tampering with evidence and arson.
“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,” Steele said. “Although the family is content with the outcome, there will always be a void for them that will never be filled.”
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 explained.
He added that an autopsy showed White was killed from blunt force trauma — prior to the fire.
Trosper explained that White and Sweeney were “friends.” He added that it appeared Sweeney murdered White, then set her house on fire to cover up the slaying.
Pleads guilty to murder, first-degree robbery, tampering with evidence, arson
By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
Twin girls Brooklyn and Brandy Clontz sit on Santa’s lap at the Laurel County Public Library’s annual Holiday Kickoff.
Sharing the Spirit
The Laurel County Public Library held its Holiday Kickoff Thursday from 3:30-7 p.m. The celebration included children 10 and under getting pictures taken with Santa, refreshments and performances by pianist Earlene Vance and the Children’s Theatre of Cincinatti.
- Sharing the Spirit
- Local News
Letter discussed by airport board
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- Letter discussed by airport board
- Local Sports
The Corbin Lady Redhounds returned to action in their second round match of the Cumberland Falls Invitational Tournament. Corbin entered the contest riding off an 86-point, hard-fought scoring effort in Wednesday's victory over Harlan.
There was really no question North Laurel would make short work of young Riverside Christian. The Jaguars picked up an 82-25 win Thursday with a running clock starting late in the first half.
- Rolling Along
School-choice critics intimidate but won’t debate
Ken Wilber wrote: “Most of us are only willing to call 5% of our present information into question (at) any one point.” Then there is the closed-minded leadership of the Kentucky Education Association, Jefferson County Teachers Association, Kentucky School Boards Association and Kentucky Association of School Superintendents who, when it comes to school choice, won’t even question that much.
- School-choice critics intimidate but won’t debate
Stacie Eichinger brings out her "Walk 4 Courage" buggy and beads she's selling outside the West Knox Volunteer Fire and Rescue station Wednesday, to pose with the crew. Those in the picture include Chief Darryl Baker and his son.
Raising money for ill children, Stacie sets foot at West Knox firehouse
Moments after Stacie Eichinger got to the West Knox Volunteer Fire and Rescue station on a warm Wednesday afternoon, priority one was to lose the shoes.
- Raising money for ill children, Stacie sets foot at West Knox firehouse
Ky. needs to enact smoke-free law
As president of the Kentucky Society for Respiratory Care and a board member of the Kentucky Rural Health Association, I urge state lawmakers to enact a smoke-free law, which would greatly benefit the health of Kentuckians.
- Ky. needs to enact smoke-free law
Authors Steve Vest (left) and James B. Goode (right) discuss the making of the holiday book, "Kentucky's Twelve Days of Christmas."
Season’s Readings: Christmas book tour stops in Corbin
For an hour Monday, voices filled with the written words of Christmases past filtered through the Corbin Public Library.
- Season’s Readings: Christmas book tour stops in Corbin