Guilty verdict in cold case murder trial
By AMANDA KELLEY, WNEP
STROUDSBURG — A jury has found a man guilty of first degree murder in a decades-old cold case in Monroe County.
It took 45 years for investigators to make an arrest in the murder of Alfred Barnes, and Monday afternoon, a jury in Monroe County found Richard Keiper guilty of first degree murder.
Prosecutors tell us this was the oldest cold case in the commonwealth to go to trial.
Richard Keiper walked into the Monroe County Courthouse in Stroudsburg nearly 50 years after he shot and killed Bethlehem Steel executive Alfred Barnes in a field near Effort.
The case went cold for decades, but over the past week it was brought back to life in the Monroe County Courthouse using black and white photographs, old hand drawn maps, and testimony.
"To find people who, A, are still alive, B, are able to remember and articulate what had happened, that's no easy task. I have to give the credit to the investigators," said Monroe County first assistant District Attorney Michael Mancuso.
Cold case ended after 45 years:
Prosecutors argued that Keiper committed the crime over a 1968 Ford Thunderbird car that he wanted from Barnes.
Investigators say the murder happened in a field near Effort. The murder weapon was never found.
"I always say DNA solved the case, because it was the defendant's belief that there was DNA that prompted him to start making admissions to the Texas Ranger, which first cracked open the case for us," Mancuso added.
After about an hour and a half of deliberations, Keiper's wife heard the guilty verdict and yelled out to the news cameras.
"Get that thing out of my face."
But for the victim's nephew and prosecutors, Keiper's conviction for murder in the first degree was well worth the wait.
"He was very much satisfied, albeit 47 years later," said Mancuso. "He's really happy about the way the jury came back with first degree in this case."
Richard Kepier is scheduled to be sentenced in October.
Because the court must follow guidelines from the 1960s, Keiper faces life in prison without parole.
Defense attorneys argued for a mistrial Monday morning, claiming the prosecution made an improper statement about a witness during opening statements. The judge overruled the motion.