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Father recounts finding son in double homicide trial

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Samuel Willliams, left, speaks with his defense attorney John Thebes, during his death penalty case where he is charged in the ashyxiation deaths of Johnny Clarke and Lisa Straub.

The Blade/Andy Morrison
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While recounting what he found after kicking in the door of the home where his son was living, John P. Clarke stared across a Lucas County Common Pleas courtroom today at Samuel Williams, one of two men charged in the asphyxiation deaths of Johnny Clarke and his girlfriend Lisa Straub.

“His feet were taped. His ankles were taped. … He had a bag over his head,” the elder Clarke told a jury of nine women and three men. “… The first thing I thought was that I have to rip this bag off and give him CPR. … I put my hands on his head to turn it and it was stiff as a board.”

Taking time to steady himself, Clarke testified about looking for and eventually finding his son on the night of Jan. 30, 2011. He was among several witnesses to take the stand during the second day of testimony in Williams’ trial.

Williams, 24, of 1626 Kelsey Ave., and co-defendant Cameo Pettaway, 23, each are charged with two counts each of aggravated murder and kidnapping and one count of aggravated burglary. The two men are charged with the deaths of the younger Clarke, 21, and Ms. Straub, 20, who the elder Clarke found bound with bags over their heads at the Longacre Lane home of Ms. Straub’s parents.

The two defendants are being tried simultaneously before juries in separate courtrooms.

Also this morning, Ed Biederstedt, a special agent with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, walked the jury in Mr. Pettaway’s trial through a series of photographs depicting the Straub home, the victims’ bodies lying on the kitchen floor, and the location of evidence collected from the scene.

He showed them two broken cell phones, which were found in pieces in the kitchen and living room as well as Clarke’s black wallet, which was found on his stomach.

“I’m not sure why it was placed there,” Mr. Biederstedt said.

Defense attorney Mark Geudtner questioned the agent extensively about photographs that showed the cigarette butt Mr. Biederstedt found near the door leading from the kitchen to the garage. In one picture, it was very close to the baseboard, while others showed the butt a few inches from the baseboard. He also pointed out photos showing Clarke’s wallet lying on his belly in a horizontal position and then in a vertical position, one with a paper sticking out of it, one without.

Mr. Biederstedt said in both cases, he had picked up the object to look at it then placed it back where he had found it for further photographing. He looked through the wallet, which contained Clarke’s driver’s license but no money, then put everything back and stuffed the paper that had been sticking out back into the wallet.

“Did you do that to confuse defense attorneys?” Mr. Geudtner asked.

“No, I did not,” Mr. Biederstedt replied.

The defense said in opening statements that the scene was not processed appropriately by investigators, which could have tainted the evidence.

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