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Thomas W. Randolph Jr., the Roy man aquitted in April of killing his wife, was sentenced to up to five years in prison Tuesday for offering an undercover police agent $10,000 to kill the chief witness against him.

Randolph, 34, pleaded guilty to the witness tampering charge, a third-degree felony, in a plea negotiation with the Davis County Attorney's Office and was sentenced Tuesday in 2nd District Court.He was acquitted after a two-week trial in the November 1986 death of his wife, Rebecca Randolph, found shot once in the head in their home in Clearfield. Randolph was charged with capital homicide and insurance fraud. He faced the death penalty,

He was arrested in November of last year and held without bail in the Davis County Jail. In January, he was charged with conspiracy to commit murder, a first-degree felony, for trying to arrange the killing of Eric Tarantino, the prime witness against him in his upcoming murder trial.

Randolph's girlfriend, Wendy Z. Moore, 30, Layton, was also charged in the incident.

In his plea negotiation, Randolph agreed to plead guilty to the reduced charge of witness tampering in return for having an additional drug charge against him and the conspiracy charge against Moore dismissed.

Defense attorney John Caine, who also represented Randolph in the murder trial, argued that the case against Randolph is more entrapment than witness tampering and a jail informant was promised freedom in return for his cooperation when he was planted in Randolph's jail cell.

Randolph did some stupid things and "ran off at the mouth," Caine said, but he'd already spent months in jail faced with a death penalty charge and was under severe pressure.

No actual witness tampering occurred, Caine argued, because Tarantino was not threatened and testified against Randolph at the trial. Transcripts of the telephone conversations between Randolph and an undercover police agent are ambiguous and could be interpreted as closing a drug deal instead of arranging a murder, Caine said.

Judge Douglas L Cornaby disagreed, saying the information in the Adult Probation and Parole report indicates clearly that Randolph offered $10,000 to have a witness against him murdered.

Even if Tarantino was not actually threatened, Cornaby said, Randolph clearly intended to have him killed to keep him from testifying and "his skirts are not clean."

The judge ordered Randolph to serve a zero to five years in prison and fined him $1,000.

At Caine's urging, Cornaby agreed to read the court transcript from Randolph's preliminary hearing and listen to the tapes of the telephone conversation between Randolph and the undercover police agent.

If he finds they are ambiguous or concern a drug deal rather than a killing, Cornaby said he will order a new sentencing hearing.