|Jeff Bloom took part in the murder conspiracy to kill Stephen Rash (mug shot GCSO)|
Nearly all of the six people who took part in a December 2008 murder conspiracy have been sentenced.
Jeff Bloom, 51, was originally charged with first-degree murder for the death Stephen Rash, but in August he pleaded guilty to amended charges of second-degree murder. As part of that plea agreement, he gave up the right to appeal.
Defense attorney Tom Carver called one witness to the stand at Bloom's sentencing hearing, his mother Audrey Bloom. Bloom said doctors diagnosed her son as "brain damaged" during his birth when he was in kindergarten. She said he graduated from a Pennsylvania high school for mentally challenged youth at the fourth grade level.
Carver told the court his client was diagnosed with an IQ of 65 and lacked the mental capacity to be the "mastermind" of Stephen Rash's murder.
|Prosecutors say Theresa Rash hatched the plan to kill her husband|
According to court records, Bloom was having an affair with Theresa Rash -- Stephen Rash's wife -- when the pair, along with Theresa Rash's daughter Alexandria McNeeley and her boyfriend, Troy Christiansen, compiled a list of people they wanted "taken out." Theresa Rash wanted her husband dead for allegedly verbally abusing her and because she wanted to be with Bloom.
The group recruited two other men, Rusty L. Amoss and William L. Reed, to carry out the hit on Stephen Rash while they went bowling, with Bloom's wife Karen Gardner, to create an alibi.
Rash was beaten with a pipe and his throat slashed at his Chicago Street home, according to court records.
|Stephen Rash was murdered in his home|
According to Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson, "Stephen Rash was the first person on a hit list in a binder found at Bloom's residence He had a folder of different cases....Christiansen was even on the list. When investigators went to Theresa Rash's sons home to tell her they were releasing the crime scene they found the defendant in bed with the widow."
Bloom's mother told the court, "He could take care of himself but he couldn't really make decisions. He let people push him around and decide things for him."
Patterson said that at least one other doctor who tested Bloom believed "he purposefully manipulated IQ tests by maligning."
"Jeff knew what was going on ... but to say that he was the mastermind of this I think is a misconception," said Carver, who laid the majority of the blame on Theresa Rash. "He is easily led and has significant brain damage. People weren't following Jeff Bloom's directions ... if anything he was the bottom of the food chain."
Other than Patterson, there was no loved one there to speak for Rash.
Patterson argued that, despite a lower than average IQ, Bloom is "not that much different from other criminals."
"He has the ability to think and plan...the difference with him is his thinking is criminal. He is not a hapless person in this, he was one of the driving forces." Patterson said. He is a dangerous individual and there is no treatment or supervision that can protect us from him. The place for a defendant like Jeff Bloom is the Department of Corrections."
Judge Michael Cordonnier agreed.
"Your IQ does not excuse you from responsibility for these crimes." Cordonnier said Thursday he was had been through numerous proceedings the last few years and he was "not impressed" at Bloom's attempts to minimize his role in the crime after he met with probation and parole officials after pleading guilty.
As Cordonnier was about to hand down the sentence he asked Bloom if he had been satisfied with Carver's representation. Yes, answered Bloom. But I have one question.....what is maligning?"
Cordonnier shut him down. "Mr. Bloom the time for you to ask anything is over.
It was the husband of your mistress that was the primary target. I do think you are capable of thinking and planning crimes and society has a need to seek retribution."
Bloom was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He must serve 85% of the sentence before he becomes eligible for parole.
Theresa Rash entered an Alford plead in August and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. An Alford plea is one where defendants do not admit guilt, but concede that the state probably has enough evidence to secure a conviction if the case were to proceed to trial.
Christiansen pleaded guilty to amended charges of conspiracy to commit murder. Last week he was sentenced to 12 years in prison, but placed on probation over Patterson's objection.
|William Reed was sentenced to life in prison|
Amoss and Reed were both sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for their roles in Rash's murder.
|Rusty Amoss will spend the rest of his life behind bars|
McNeeley, who agreed to testify against he co-conspirators, pleaded guilty to amended charges of conspiracy to commit murder and is scheduled to appear in court in December where a sentencing date is expected to be set.