Joseph Thomas barely spoke at his arraignment Wednesday in Mentor Municipal Court.
His only words were in response to a question from Judge John Trebets. When the judge asked him if he wished to enter no plea, Thomas whispered, "Yes, sir."
Trebets set Thomas' bond at $1 million and the hearing ended after just a few minutes.
Because Thomas was charged with a felony and the hearing was in municipal court, he could not plead guilty. He could only plead not guilty or not plea.
Chief Assistant Lake County Public Defender Charles R. Grieshammer represented Thomas during the arraignment. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Charles Cichocki was there for the Lake County Prosecutor's Office but he did not speak during the hearing.
The courtroom was filled with friends and family of Annie McSween. They were silent during the arraignment.
Thomas, 26, was by Mentor-on-the-Lake and Madison Township Police on a charge of aggravated murder. He is accused of killing 49-year-old bartender Annie McSween.
McSween, 49, was found murdered Nov. 26 near Mario's Lakeway Lounge on Andrews Road.
McSween had tended and closed the bar at Lakeway Lounge the night she was murdered.
Her body was found behind the building next to the bar at 8:39 a.m. the next day. She had been beaten, strangled and repeatedly stabbed, Lake County Deputy Coroner Dr. Mark Komar said. She likely bled to death.
Someone had climbed the bar to cut its phone and cable lines. The tires of McSween's car had also been flattened.
Police have not discussed any of the evidence that led to Thomas' arrest.
Police arrested Thomas from the home where he was living on the 1300 block of Oldsmar Avenue in Madison Township.
According to various court documents, Thomas frequently changed addresses. He has lived in Mentor-on-the-Lake, Madison Township, Perry Township and Fairport Harbor.
Thomas but has not been convicted of a felony.
Mentor-on-the-Lake Police Chief Joseph Doran would not confirm or deny that Thomas was in the bar the night McSween was killed.
Robert Sylvester, a man who lives nearby Lakeway and used to be a regular patron, said he saw Thomas at the bar on several occasions.
Mentor-on-the-Lake Police enlisted the help of several local and federal agencies during the investigation of McSween's murder. Detectives from Mentor, Willoughby and Eastlake Police Departments, investigators from the Lake County Prosecutor's Office, the Lake County Crime Lab, the state Attorney General's Office, FBI and Crimestoppers all helped.
The video of the entire arraignment is attached to this story.