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Published: Friday, 7/20/2012

Jury hears opening arguments, views crime scene in Springfield Township murders

BLADE STAFF
Assistant Lucas County Prosecutor Rob Miller demonstrates how Johnny Clark's hands were bound behind his back, during his opening statement at Samuel Williams'  trial. Assistant Lucas County Prosecutor Rob Miller demonstrates how Johnny Clark's hands were bound behind his back, during his opening statement at Samuel Williams' trial.
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As in the case against co-defendant Cameo Pettaway, prosecutors Friday morning pointed to a smoked Newport cigarette butt as the smoking gun tying Samuel Williams to the brutal slayings of a Springfield Township woman and her boyfriend.

Mr. Williams, 24, of 1626 Kelsey Ave., is charged with two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of kidnapping, and one count of aggravated burglary in the Jan. 31, 2011, deaths of Lisa Straub, 20, and Johnny Clarke, 21. The two were found lying on the floor of Ms. Straub’s parents’ home with plastic bags tied tightly around their necks with black duct tape. Their wrists also were bound as were Clarke’s ankles.

Mr. Pettaway, 23, of 133 Essex St., faces the same charges in the case, although only Mr. Williams could be sentenced to death if convicted.

During his opening statements Friday, Rob Miller, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, described in detail the circumstances of the couple’s “slow, torturous” death and walked the jury through the investigation by the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office that eventually led to DNA test results of a cigarette butt found near a door leading from inside the house to the garage.

“The murderers in this case made a mistake — a mistake that only time and science can tell you,” Mr. Miller said.

He said the butt contained the DNA of both Mr. Pettaway and Mr. Williams.

Still, defense attorney Jane Roman told jurors during her opening statements that of all the fingerprints, handprints, shoe impressions, and other DNA collected at the crime scene, “none of them can be attributed to Sam Williams except the cigarette butt.”

She said at least two other unknown persons’ DNA was found on the bindings that were tied around Clarke’s neck, wrists, and ankles.

Ms. Roman cautioned jurors to rely on common sense and logic as they hear the evidence in the case.

The jury was then taken to the Straub home on Longacre Lane in Springfield Township.

Testimony in both Mr. Williams’s and Mr. Pettaway’s cases is to begin Monday.



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