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News Scan

Ohio Murderer's Conviction Overturned:  The Ohio Supreme Court overturned the conviction and death sentence of a man found guilty of the 2010 rape and murder of a bartender.  Evan MacDonald of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the court's 4-3 ruling held that the introduction of the defendant's knife collection at trial was "highly prejudicial" and likely influenced the jury's verdict.  Witnesses at the bar where Ann McSween worked saw defendant Joseph Thomas on the night of the murder with a blue knife clipped to his belt.  They saw her refuse to dance with Thomas and heard her ask him to leave at closing time.  Later in the parking lot, the woman was stripped, beaten, raped and stabbed to death.  Thomas' neighbor saw someone at Thomas' residence shortly after the murder, burning what police found to be the victim's clothes in a barrel.  Thomas' girlfriend said he always carried his blue knife on his belt when he went to bars.  Thomas denied this, and his blue knife was never found.  At trial the prosecutor showed the jury the five other knives Thomas kept and suggested it would not be unusual for him to carry a knife.  The court's dissent noted that showing the jury the knives corroborated testimony that Thomas was carrying a knife on the night of the murder. 

DNA Ties Sex Offender to 1980 Murder:  A construction worker, who dodged a sexual assault conviction in 1981 and was later convicted of one in 1982, has been arrested for the murder of a 20-year-old pregnant woman in 1980.  Emily Holland of the Patch reports that new DNA technology resulted in a match tying Robert Yniguez to the body of Teresa Broudreaux found in March 1980 lying on a beach near Palos Verdes in Los Angeles County.  Yniguez served eight years in prison for the 1982 sexual assault, but charges were dropped for an earlier assault when the victim stopped cooperating with police.  He is being held on $2 million bail.

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