The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

January 10, 2014

Woman enters plea, agrees to testify in Union County murder case

LEWISBURG — A Lewisburg woman agreed Thursday in Union County Court to plead guilty to receiving stolen property in exchange for her helping in the prosecution of others charged in a Mifflinburg man’s murder in 2012.

But relatives of Randy Sampsell, 51, who was found dead in June 2012 of a single gunshot wound to the head, think Amanda Kratzer, 27, is getting off easy for what she allegedly contributed to the crime.

“I want to see all of them get what they deserve, but especially her,” said Judy Briden, of Sunbury, one of Sampsell’s three siblings who appeared in Union County Court on Thursday during Kratzer’s appearance before President Judge Michael Sholley. “She’s not even getting a slap on the wrist.”

If accepted, the guilty plea will earn Kratzer about two years’ probation, her attorney, Stephen Becker, of Lewisburg, said Thursday outside the courtroom. Sentencing will take place in Union County in mid-March.

If accepted, Kratzer also will cooperate with the commonwealth “on the prosecution of defendants” in Sampsell’s murder, Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Crossland said.

Kratzer pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property, namely a firearm taken from the home of Scott Vonneida after Justin Richard, 29, of Mifflinburg, and Herbert Lamont Tiebout, 38, of Lewisburg, and two unidentified men beat and robbed Vonneida of 10 firearms.

Kratzer was one of four people arrested in September 2012 in connection with the Sampsell killing. At the time, she was charged with four counts of conspiracy to commit robbery, burglary and receiving stolen property. She was free on $25,000 bail.

Kratzer allegedly gave Richard the names of Vonneida and Sampsell, as well as others, when he asked her for people who grew or sold marijuana, with the intention of robbing them.

“She made them sound like they were big-time drug dealers,” Briden said. “If it wasn’t for her, (Randy) would be alive.”

In April 2013, charges against Kratzer were reduced to one count of conspiracy to commit burglary after Richard recanted his testimony regarding the events of the murder.

At the time of the crime, Kratzer was Richard’s girlfriend. He and Tiebout were charged with second- and third-degree murder. Michael Shetterly, 26, of Mifflinburg, also was charged with receiving stolen property.

The two unidentified African-American men were never found, and Wayne Sampsell, Randy’s brother, doubts their existence.

“My thinking is there aren’t two others,” he said. “One of them (Richard or Tiebout) is the shooter.”

The defense doesn’t know who the shooter is either, Becker said.

“We don’t know if it was one of those two, and the others were never found,” he said.

While Kratzer’s cooperation may help the prosecution’s case, it doesn’t help the Sampsells, they said, who have lived with the open-ended case for about 18 months since their brother’s murder.

“I miss him,” his sister, Paula Klingaman, of Sunbury, said as she held back tears. “I want to have the people involved admit it and face what they have coming to them.”

Richard pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in June, was sentenced in September to 16 to 32 years in state prison, and will also testify against others in Sampsell’s killing and Vonneida’s robbery.

n Email comments to esocha@dailyitem.com.

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