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Published: Thursday, 5/10/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Defense awaits evaluation of suspect's mental status

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Cameo Pettaway is charged with capital case in double homicide in Springfield Township. Cameo Pettaway is charged with capital case in double homicide in Springfield Township.
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Attorneys for a Toledo man charged in the 2011 asphyxiation deaths of a Springfield Township couple are awaiting an opinion to determine whether Cameo Pettaway has a mental disability, and so would be ineligible for the death penalty.

Defense attorney Mark Geudtner said Wednesday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court that a report is forthcoming based on evaluations of Mr. Pettaway. He said depending on the information in that report, the defense would file the appropriate motions.

Judge James Bates noted the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that people with mental disabilities are not subject to execution.

Mr. Pettaway, 22, of 133 Essex St., is charged with two counts of aggravated murder, one count of aggravated burglary, and two counts of kidnapping. He faces the death penalty if convicted.

Mr. Pettaway and co-defendant Samuel Williams, 24, of 1626 Kelsey Ave. are charged in the Jan. 31, 2011, asphyxiation deaths of Lisa Straub and Johnny Clarke. The pair were found bound by duct tape, with plastic bags over their heads, in the home of Ms. Straub's parents on Longacre Lane home.

Both men have trial dates set for May 29.

Judge Bates referenced the upcoming trial date and asked both the prosecution and defense be ready to file memorandums with the court regarding the issue if necessary.

Also at Wednesday's court appearance, Judge Bates ruled on recent motions filed by both sides.

Mr. Pettaway's lawyers filed a notice of defendant's withdrawal of Remittal of Disqualification, stating that Judge Bates should disqualify himself as the judge in the case.

Specifically, the notice stated Mr. Pettaway did not "genuinely understand the purpose and significance of the Remittal of Disqualification when he signed it."

Because Judge Bates is married to Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates, a remittal document is signed by each defendant whose case is assigned to him.

The remittal states the defendant is aware Judge Bates is the husband of Mrs. Bates and that "it is hereby agreed that the perceived conflict of interest is immaterial and the Judge may participate in the proceedings."

The remittal was signed Oct. 25 by Mr. Pettaway and his lawyers, Mr. Geudtner and Merle Dech.

Judge Bates said Wednesday that in the months since the remittal was signed, he has not talked about the case with his wife. He further said he has ruled on many motions in the case.

The judge denied the notice saying that "nothing has changed as far as this court is concerned" since the remittal was signed. That decision can be appealed.

The judge also denied a request by the prosecutor's office to continue the trial date.

Jeff Lingo, chief of the criminal division said the request was a result of the state having not yet received expert reports from the defense that are due 21 days before trial.

Judge Bates noted any evidence not complying with the rules might be excluded at trial.

A motion to continue the trial is also pending in Williams' case before Judge Dean Mandros.

Contact Erica Blake at: eblake@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.



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