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Published: Thursday, 5/24/2012

Trial delayed for defendant in double murder


The trial for one of two men charged in the capital murder case involving the asphyxiation deaths of a Springfield Township couple was rescheduled Wednesday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court to July 17.

Cameo Pettaway, 22, of 133 Essex St. is charged in the Jan. 31, 2011, deaths of Lisa Straub and Johnny Clarke. They were found bound by duct tape, with plastic bags over their heads, in the Longacre Lane home of Ms. Straub's parents.

Judge James Bates had set a trial date for next Tuesday but noted in court Wednesday that a request to have him removed as judge in the case has been filed and remains pending in the Ohio Supreme Court.

The judge further noted he is unable to make any rulings on outstanding issues in the case until that request has been decided. Because of that, he said, next week's trial date would have to be moved.

Mr. Pettaway's court-appointed attorneys, Merle Dech and Mark Geudtner, filed an affidavit for disqualification May 14 with the Ohio Supreme Court, saying the removal of Judge Bates was "necessary in order to assure defendant's rights to due process and a fair and reliable trial."

In a written response filed with the high court, the judge said the request came at the "11th hour" and called it a "ploy for appeal."

Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor has not issued a decision. Until a decision is made, the case remains on hold in Common Pleas Court.

Mr. Pettaway's co-defendant, Samuel Williams, 24, of 1626 Kelsey Ave., also has a trial date set for Tuesday.

A request by the prosecutor's office to push back the trial is pending before Judge Dean Mandros.

In its request, the prosecutor's office requested a new trial date "because defendant had not provided any discovery to the state."

The judge has scheduled a hearing Friday at which the issue is likely to be addressed.

The lawyers involved in both cases could not comment on the pending motions because gag orders have been issued.

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