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Jury resumes deliberations in capital murder trial

Deliberations in case against Williams to continue

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Samuel Williams awaits his verdict from the jury in his trial in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

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A Lucas County Common Pleas Court jury resumed deliberations today in the capital murder case against Samuel Williams.

The jury deliberated Thursday for more than six hours before adjourning. 

Williams, 24, is charged with two counts each of aggravated murder and kidnapping and one count of aggravated burglary in the Jan. 30, 2011, deaths of Lisa Straub, 20, and Johnny Clarke, 21. The couple were found in the Springfield Township home of Ms. Straub's parents with their hands bound behind their backs and plastic bags secured around their necks with duct tape. Clarke's ankles also were bound with duct tape.

The jury was sequestered at a hotel last night and will continue deliberations this morning.

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After hearing three days of testimony from 27 witnesses, including one for the defense, and viewing more than 130 exhibits, jurors heard several hours of closing arguments Thursday. The prosecution and the defense asked the jurors to consider all the evidence, especially DNA, although each side tried to show how it pointed in different directions.

Rob Miller, an assistant county prosecutor, told the jury of nine women and three men that of the nearly 90 people whose DNA was tested and compared to evidence collected in the house, DNA of only Williams and co-defendant Cameo Pettaway was found.

" … A cigarette on the floor doesn't mean much, but when you couple it with phone records, conversations, jail calls … " he said of a cigarette butt found in the home that contained a 50-50 mixture of William's and Mr. Pettaway's DNA. " … Someone who doesn't know Johnny Clarke or Lisa Straub left their DNA at a double-homicide crime scene. They may have well signed their name."

Defense attorney John Thebes also asked jurors to consider DNA and pointed out the numerous pieces of evidence that contained DNA of others. In particular, he noted the duct tape that was used to bind the victims had traces of DNA on it, including a profile of an unknown woman, but none belonging to Williams.

Mr. Thebes also asked jurors to scrutinize the testimony of an informant, Erik Yingling, who testified Tuesday about information he said Williams shared while the two were jailed.

Mr. Thebes asked jurors to question why Williams, after spending so many months not saying anything, would open up to another inmate while in custody. He asked jurors to consider how readily information was available via the Internet or through Williams' case file at the jail.

Yingling, who has an extensive criminal career involving mostly theft offenses, testified that Williams said he is haunted by the "crinkling sound" made when Ms. Straub tried to breathe with the bag over her face. He further testified that Williams said they went to the Straub home for a safe full of money but only found Iraqi currency bought by the Straubs as an investment. The fact the currency was found in the home was not public information.

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