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Knight, accused of murder for hire, may plead guilty

Randall D. Knight, the accused killer for hire in a Cattaraugus County murder case from 16 years ago, is considering taking a guilty plea, a federal prosecutor told a judge this week.

And if Knight does take a plea, he would be expected to testify against his former lover, Cheryl L. Gasper, who faces state murder charges in the same case, Assistant U. S. Attorney Anthony M. Bruce said.

Knight is charged with a federal crime of crossing state lines to commit a murder for hire.

In a cold case that had been unsolved since 1994, Knight and Gasper face charges in connection with the stabbing murder of Andie K. Gasper, who was killed behind the former Ames department store in Yorkshire. The victim and Cheryl Gasper were estranged at the time.

Bruce's statements were made Wednesday, during Knight's brief court appearance before U. S. Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott.

The chances of Knight taking a federal guilty plea and becoming a state court witness against Cheryl Gasper look strong at this point, Cattaraugus County District Attorney Lori P. Rieman told The Buffalo News on Friday.

"It sounds like it's going to happen. It sounds like [Knight] is actually remorseful," Rieman said. "But at this point, we don't know if Cheryl Gasper plans to go to trial."

Will Cheryl Gasper go to trial on the murder charge filed against her last month?

Her attorney, Mark S. Williams of the county public defender's office, said he doesn't know, either.

"She's weighing her options right now," Williams said.

When asked about the possibility of Knight testifying against Gasper, Williams said: "Guilt must be a very powerful emotion, because people kept quiet about this for 16 years, and now they're telling stories. A lot of finger-pointing is what I see."

A decorated Air Force veteran, Andie Gasper, 32, was found murdered in his pickup truck in a dirt parking lot behind the store July 3, 1994. He and Cheryl Gasper had three children together.

Knight was charged with the murder but found not guilty after a jury trial in 1995. Cheryl Gasper was the key prosecution witness against Knight, and at the time, she denied involvement.

Rieman said it would be ironic if Knight — long after Cheryl Gasper testified against him—wound up as the chief prosecution witness against her.

"But this time, the prosecution would be successful, because [Knight] would be telling the whole truth, and she wasn't," Rieman said.

e-mail: dherbeck@buffnews.com

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