Inmate says killing child-sex suspect was a public service

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A California inmate bragged to a judge that he was performing a public service when he killed a cellmate awaiting trial on charges of sexually abusing a child.

The Fresno Bee reported Wednesday that a judge sentenced a remorseless Gary Dale Poole to 75-years-to-life in prison after a jury convicted him of first-degree murder. Poole on Tuesday said in court for the first time that he strangled Michael Stauff, 62, in April 2014.

"Mercy was mixed with justice. He met his maker," Poole told Superior Court Judge Jonathan Conklin.

Poole, 67, had previously denied killing Stauff, who was found strangled by ripped bed sheets in their shared cell. A jury convicted him of murder after an hour of deliberations in March.

The judge called Poole's admission Tuesday "striking in its audacity" after denying the charge for so long.

"In trial, you said you were innocent. Today, we know that was an absolute fabrication. You did it," Conklin said in sentencing Poole to the maximum term

Court records showed Poole was convicted of unlawful consensual sex with an inmate, burglary, bank robbery and robbery. At the time of Stauff's killing, Poole was in jail on drug charges, court records showed.

Prosecutors argued during the trial that Poole killed Stauff because he refused to share food and coffee and the two argued over a television.

Stauff's cousin, Lynda Qualls, told the judge she and her family appreciate that Stauff's death was "valued by the court system and not swept under the rug."

Qualls said she hoped Poole would receive mental health counseling in prison.

Stauff was awaiting trial on charges of lewd or lascivious acts with a child and continuous sexual abuse of a child.