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Jury selection begins in capital murder case

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Samuel Williams introduces himself to potential jurors in the Lucas County Common Pleas Court Tuesday in the first day of jury selection.

The Blade/Jetta Fraser
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Prosecutors and defense attorneys began interviewing potential jurors this morning to hear the case of an East Toledo man charged with the murders of a Springfield Township couple.

Samuel Williams, 24, of 1626 Kelsey Ave., is charged with two counts of aggravated murder, one count of aggravated burglary, and two counts of kidnapping stemming from the Jan. 31, 2011 asphyxiation deaths of Lisa Straub, 20, and her boyfriend, Johnny Clarke, 21. If convicted, Mr. Williams could face the death penalty.

Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Dean Mandros cautioned the pool of 82 prospective jurors to avoid news reports about both cases and to refrain from discussing either case with anyone. Because jurors were to be questioned individually about their views on the death penalty, Judge Mandros divided the pool into groups and gave each group a time to report back to court.

Judge Mandros said the court anticipates holding opening statements in the Williams case Friday with the first witness to be called to testify on Monday. The trial is to coincide with the trial of co-defendant Cameo Pettaway, 22, of 133 Essex St., who faces the same charges. Jury selection for Mr. Pettaway’s case is expected to begin this afternoon.

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