Joseph Thomas Sentenced To Death For Murder Of Annie McSween
Friends and family of McSween address Thomas during the hearing
Joseph Thomas mumbled a few inaudible words and shook his head as Judge Richard Collins Jr. sentenced him to death Monday afternoon for the murder of Mentor woman Annie McSween.
Earlier during the hearing, Thomas' attorney, David Doughten, said that Thomas still maintained his innocence and declined to add anymore.
When the judge asked if Thomas had anything to say in his own defense, he replied, "Nope."
However, the family and friends of McSween had several things they wanted to say to him.
"You committed the most heinous crime possible and you show no remorse," Valerie Cortelli, a family friend, said.
"To this day, you show no remorse," said Erin McSween, the wife of Annie's son, Justin McSween, "which speaks to the narcissistic monster you are."
Thomas, 28, did not look at McSween's friends and family as they spoke. When asked -- after the hearing -- why Thomas did not look at them, Justin McSween replied, "Because he has no soul."
McSween's family and friends did not just talk about Thomas during the hearing. They also talked about what they lost when Annie McSween was killed.
"She had the biggest heart," Erin McSween said. "At times, she would have had nothing but would have given you th coat off of her back. Two years later, it is still hard to know she's gone.
"Her grandson did not get to share his first day of kindergarten with her," she continued. "His pictures that he draws for her do not get hung on a fridge. Instead, they are left on her grave."
Thomas's execution date has not been scheduled yet. He still could appeal his convictions or his sentence.
Thomas was convicted of aggravated murder, rape, aggravated robbery, kidnapping and tampering with evidence earlier this month.
After convicting Thomas, the jury also suggested that he receive the death penalty.
However, Collins had the power to ultimately choose Thomas' punishment.
He could have sentenced Thomas to 25 years to life in prison, 30 years to life in prison or life without the possibility of parole, as opposed to the death penalty.
In hopes of getting Thomas a lesser sentence, several of his family members and associates had previously testified that Thomas was abandoned by his father, ignored by his drug-addicted mother and abused by a series of surrogate father figures.
Collins said Thomas' difficult past did not justify his crime.
"Joseph Thomas had a terrible upbringing and family life. Yet others have had equally bad upbringings but go on to live a law-abiding life," he said.
Erin McSween agreed with the judge's assessment.
"Life is tough, which is what Annie would have told you," she said to Thomas. "You lack the ability to deal with it in a healthy manner. That makes you dangerous and unpredictable and a danger to the community."
McSween, 49, was tending bar at Mario's Lakeway Lounge in Mentor-on-the-Lake on Nov. 26, 2010 and closed the bar by herself.
Thomas, who was at the bar that night, was arrested and charged with her death after authorities found McSween's burnt clothes in a barrel behind the Mentor-on-the-Lake home where he lived at the time of the murder.
After the hearing, McSween's family and friends made a statement in which they thanked the Mentor-on-the-Lake Police Department, the Lake County Prosecutor's Office and everyone else who helped in the case and trial.
"We cannot be happier with the outcome," Justin McSween said, "and, on behalf of our mother, Annie McSween, thank you for providing some peace and closure to our family."
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