MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A man who killed his son 4-month-old son in 1981 was released from custody Monday after he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter.
Richard Poore, formerly of Pleasants County, was set to go on trial for a second time on a first-degree murder charge but instead entered the plea.
Poore was convicted in 2008 for shaking his baby, Richard Poore, Jr., to death in a St. Marys home in 1981. He was sentenced to life in prison. The conviction came some 27 years after the death when an unfinished autopsy report was found at the state Medical Examiner’s Office in Morgantown.
The state Supreme Court overturned the conviction two years ago citing a number of errors in the trial. The case was moved to Monongalia County where retired state Supreme Court Justice Larry Starcher took the plea Monday.
Special Prosecutor Luke Furbee of Tyler County told MetroNews Poore was given credit for time served and released.
“He had served 1,060 days (nearly three years) previously and with the deductions for good conduct, which are mandatory, he had served that sentence.”
Back in 1981 at the time of the boy’s death voluntary manslaughter carried a 1-5 prison term.
Furbee said several issues hurt the prosecution’s case the second time around including the lack of substantial evidence.
“The only direct evidence that I could put before a jury of his intent was a telephone call that was overheard by the baby’s older sister between Richard Poore and the mother,” Furbee said. “Her testimony would have been that he made the statement, ‘I didn’t mean to hurt the baby, I just wanted him to quit crying,’ that’s the only direct evidence of his intent.”
Furbee also said micro slides of tissues from the baby’s brain taken at autopsy were destroyed years ago by the state Medical Examiner’s Office.
“Nobody can study them now and nobody was able to study them after Poore was indicted and I believe that was a serious problem in the proof of the case. Poore would have been free to argue that to a jury,” Furbee said.
The state’s case was also hurt when Judge Starcher ruled last month that West Virginia Medical Examiner Dr. James Kaplan would not be allowed to testify based on previous Supreme Court cases on the confrontation clause. Kaplan testified in the first trial.