Sentencing Portion Of Joseph Thomas Trial Begins Today
Thomas -- the man convicted of murdering Mentor woman Annie McSween -- faces four potential sentences, including the death penalty
Joseph Thomas was convicted last week of murdering and raping Mentor woman Annie McSween.
However, Thomas' trial is not over.
The sentencing portion of the trial is slated to begin at 10:30 a.m. today in Lake County Common Pleas Judge Richard Collins Jr.'s courtroom.
The jury -- which will consist of the same 12 jurors and four alternates as Thomas' trial -- will gather and come to a verdict as to what punishment Thomas will face.
Thomas, 28, faces one of four sentences:
- 25 years to life in prison
- 30 years to life in prison
- life without the possibility of parole
- the death sentence.
Lake County Assistant Prosecutors Charles Cichocki and Pat Condon will present aggravating evidence to justify the death sentence to the jurors.
Meanwhile, Thomas' attorneys -- David Doughten and Lake County Assistant Public Defender Charles Grieshammer -- will offer mitigating evidence to justify giving a prison sentence.
After the evidence -- which is expected to take a day or so -- the jury will deliberate and come to a unanimous verdict.
If the jury decides that Thomas should die, Collins still has the power to sentence Thomas to prison. However, Collins cannot sentence Thomas to death if the jury decides he should go to prison.
Thomas was convicted of 11 counts of aggravated murder, rape, kidnapping, tampering with evidence and aggravated robbery. The victim in each count is McSween.
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.
But she did not make it home that night. Instead, her body was found in a wooded area behind a house that is next door to the bar. She had been beaten and stabbed repeatedly, according to the medical examiner.
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.
Thomas' defense attorneys argued that -- because the clothes were not discovered until April 2011 -- they could have been left there by someone else after Thomas moved out.
This is the first capital murder trial in Lake County in more than a decade.
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