Prosecutor Rebuts Motion That Death Penalty Should Be Dropped From Joseph Thomas Case
Assistant Lake County Prosecutor Charles Cichocki says that death penalty is constitutional in case of Joseph Thomas, who is accused of murdering Annie McSween
Assistant Lake County Prosecutor Charles Cichocki has filed motions rebutting claims from Joseph Thomas's attorneys that it is unconstitutional for the murder suspect to face the death penalty.
Thomas's attorneys, David Doughten and Assistant Lake County Public Defender Charles Grieshammer, previously filed a motion saying a potential death sentence would violate Constitutional and international law.
They said the state's capital punishment system was "arbitrary and discriminatory" because prosecutors could chosose whether or not to pursue the death penalty in specific cases, they said.
Cichocki rebutted that the fact a prosecutor has the power to charge or not charge capital felonies does not mean he's violating the Constitution.
He quoted the U.S. Supreme Court case Gregg v. Georgia in his reply.
"Absent facts to the contrary, it cannot be assumed that prosecutors will be motivated in their charging decision by factors other than the strength of their case and the likelihood that a jury will impose the death penalty if it convicts," the Supreme Court said.
Thomas's attoneys also claimed the death penalty was unconstitutional because it was racially discriminatory and tended to target minorities.
In addition to listing cases where the state's Supreme Court rejected this argument, Chihocki noted in his motion, "(The) defendant offers no evidence that the state seeks the death penalty in his case with a discriminatory purpose in mind."
Previously, Thomas's attorneys also filed a request that they have access to police reports for this case and all previous cases involving Thomas.
In response, Cichocki filed a motion, saying "(Thomas) is already in possession of all of the information he is requesting and has not specified any information the state has failed to provide him."
Judge Richard Collins Jr. has not filed on any of these motions yet.
McSween, 49, of Mentor, was found murdered Nov. 26 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.