Joseph Thomas Still Facing Death Sentence
Judge Richard Collins denies the defendant's motions to dismiss the death sentence as a possible punishment
Lake County Common Pleas Judge has denied all of murder suspect Joseph Thomas's motions to dismiss the death sentence as a possible punishment if he is convicted.
Thomas's attorneys filed several motions in January, asking the judge to dismiss the death sentence.
They claimed Thomas should not face the death sentence because the grand jury -- who decides if a defendant could potentially face death if convicted -- doesn't listen to mitigating evidence from the defendant.
Collins disagreed with Thomas. He said having the grand jury consider mitigating evidence would change the way its operated historically.
"The grand jury, moreover, is in the business of finding probably cause, not assessing possible defenses," Collins wrote in his decision.
Thomas also claimed the death penalty was unconstitutional for several other reasons, including:
- prosecutors can decide whether or not they want to pursue the death penalty
- it is racially discriminatory
- it is unconstitutionally vague
- it violates the mandate against cruel and unusual punishment
- it violates international laws and treaties.
Collins disagreed with all of these arguments. He said the Ohio Supreme Court had already ruled that the death penalty didn't violate any international treaties and the U.S. Supreme Court said it wasn't cruel and unusual punishment.
In reference to Thomas's claim that the death penalty discriminates against certain races, Collins noted that Thomas didn't say he was being unfairly discriminated against.
"A capital defendant cannot evade a death sentence merely by demonstrating the statistical disparity of capital defendants or victims of a particular race," Collins said.
Thomas is accused of killing Annie McSween, who lived in Mentor.
McSween, 49 was found murdered Nov. 26, 2010, near Mario's Lakeway Lounge on Andrews Road.
McSween had tended bar at Lakeway Lounge the night she was murdered. She closed the bar, but never made it home.
Her body was found behind the house at 5612 Andrews Road, next to the bar, at 8:39 a.m. She had been beaten, strangled and repeatedly stabbed, Lake County Deputy Coroner Dr. Mark Komar said. She likely bled to death.