Gregory Eldred, 53, of Coudersport, avoided a possible death penalty by pleading guilty to first-degree murder and will instead receive a mandatory life term without parole when he returns for sentencing by a Potter County judge on Tuesday.
Eldred acknowledging that he
gunned down 53-year-old Darlene Sitler at the First United Presbyterian Church of Coudersport on Dec. 2.
The church is about 140 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.
Until the shooting, Eldred had been an elementary school music teacher in the Coudersport Area School District since 1986 and played clarinet for the Southern Tier Symphony Orchestra in nearby Allegany, N.Y.
ex-wife had taught music at the Northern Potter Children's School
in a neighboring district for 30 years.
After the facts of his crimes were recited in court, Potter County Judge Stephen Minor asked Eldred
, "Are those facts accurate?
Investigators have never detailed the precise motive for the shooting though District Attorney Andy Watson provided a partial explanation during Wednesday's plea hearing, saying Eldred killed his wife over "information she possessed."
According to the state police, Eldred
ex-wife while she
sat at the organ during church service and, after leaving briefly, returned and shot her
again to ensure she
Pastor Evon Lloyd told police that Eldred entered the church wearing a hooded jacket and "leveled a gun at the victim and shot," according to the criminal complaint.
Sitler fell into the organ pit before Eldred
left the building and put a handgun on the hood of his vehicle while those inside called 911 and aided Sitler.
Another witness, Leslie Rolfe, said Eldred
picked up the gun about five minutes later, while Rolfe tried to hold the church doors shut but couldn't.
then walked toward his
ex-wife saying, "I got to see her
State police arrived minutes later and took Eldred
into custody without incident.