John D. Looney Guilty Plea
Cape & Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe announced that John D. Looney (D.O.B. 07/04/1961) pled guilty today in Barnstable Superior Court to Murder in the Second Degree and Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon relating to the March 2012 baseball bat beating of Richard Steele at the Kings Way condominium community in Yarmouth. Mr. Steele died as a result of the beating.
On March 23, 2012, John Looney went to the apartment of his neighbor, Richard Steele. Mr. Steele stepped outside and the men began to argue, drawing the attention of a female guest of Mr. Steele’s. The guest went to the front door and saw John Looney standing over Richard Steele, hitting him over the head with a baseball bat. The guest yelled for help and ran at John Looney, getting hit in the arms and back by the swinging bat. A neighbor called 911. The Yarmouth police responded and Richard Steele was motionless and bloody on the ground. John Looney had fled the scene. John Looney was arrested that night at the emergency department of Cape Cod Hospital where he sought treatment for an injured arm. Richard Steele remained in a critical medical state for approximately eight months, eventually succumbing to his injuries on December 1st, 2012. The medical examiner determined Richard Steele’s death resulted from blunt force trauma to the head.
While the case was pending in court, John Looney underwent several psychological evaluations. Despite a 30 year mental health history of paranoid schizophrenia including auditory hallucinations, John Looney was found to be competent to stand trial and criminally responsible at the time of the crime. These mental health assessments confirmed that John Looney’s mental state had grossly decompensated in March of 2012, due to months of not taking his psychological medications and not attending treatment sessions.
Superior Court Judge Gary Nickerson sentenced John Looney to the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment for Second Degree Murder, and to a concurrent sentence of 2 to 3 years state prison committed on the Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon, concurrent with the life sentence. The case was investigated by the State Police Detective Unit assigned to the Office of the Cape and Islands District Attorney and the Yarmouth Police Department, and was prosecuted by Second Assistant District Attorney Sharon J. Thibeault.