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Killer’s sentence slightly reduced

BUFFALO — Fifteen years after seeing their son’s killer acquitted of murder, Melanie and Horace Gasper were in court again Wednesday, this time to hear his apology and see him sentenced to 24 years in prison.

“Thank God our prayers are being answered,” Andie Gasper’s mother said as she addressed a shackled and contrite Randall Knight in U.S. District Court.

Knight, 56, was found not guilty of murder after a 1995 jury trial but pleaded guilty in July to a new federal charge brought after cold case investigators reopened the unsolved stabbing last year.

The Air Force veteran from Akron, Ohio, admitted plotting with the victim’s wife, with whom he’d had an affair, to kill his former friend for his $100,000 life insurance policy.

Cheryl Gasper pleaded guilty last month to second-degree murder and will be sentenced Nov. 15.

Judge William Skretny told Knight he didn’t doubt his remorse and believed he had been caught up in “the romance, the lust, the greed,” of his relationship with Cheryl Gasper.

But “this is hardly an accident,” the judge said in handing down a sentence five months short of the maximum recommended under federal guidelines. “It is murder, plain and simple.”

Cheryl Gasper testified against Knight at his county court murder trial but was not charged at the time. As part of his plea deal in the federal case, Knight cooperated against Cheryl Gasper. In return, the government recommended the judge slightly lessen his sentence.