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Published: Sunday, 6/17/2012

Murder defendant opts to keep lawyer

BLADE STAFF

A Toledo man charged in the asphyxiation deaths of a Springfield Township couple waived any potential conflict of interest and opted to keep his court-appointed lawyers.

Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Dean Mandros reviewed the potential conflict with Samuel Williams, who faces the death penalty if convicted of multiple charges. Williams, 24, of 1626 Kelsey Ave. is one of two men charged in the Jan. 31, 2011, asphyxiation deaths of Lisa Straub and Johnny Clarke in a Longacre Lane home.

The issue involves whether Williams' attorney, John Thebes, has a conflict of interest because he previously represented one of the possible witnesses in the case.

Williams said he understood the potential conflict and voluntarily chose to sign a waiver. Judge Mandros reserved ruling on whether to appoint a new attorney until it is learned if the potential witness also is willing to sign a waiver.

Both Williams and co-defendant Cameo Pettaway, 22, of 133 Essex St. are charged with two counts of aggravated murder, one count of aggravated burglary, and two counts of kidnapping. Both men are scheduled to go to trial July 17.

Before Friday's hearing, a dispute between friends and family of the victims and the defendants prompted Judge Mandros to ban a member of Williams' family from the courthouse. He also set in place rules for how the families were to be allowed in the courtroom.



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