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Williams jury fails to make a recommendation; judge can't impose death penalty

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Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge Dean Mandros reads a question from the jury regarding its inability to reach a sentencing recommendation for Samual Williams, who was convicted of two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of kidnapping, and one count of aggravated burglary.

The Blade/Lori King
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A Lucas County Common Pleas Court jury was excused late Monday after being unable to reach a sentence recommendation for Samuel Williams, who was found guilty in the asphyxiation deaths of a Springfield Township couple.

The jury of nine women and three men deliberated for about three hours before being discharged. The failure to recommend a sentence means that Williams will not face the death penalty when sentenced Aug. 10  by Judge Dean Mandros.

Six witnesses testified in Lucas County Common Pleas Court Monday, called by the defense during the mitigation phase of Williams’ trial.

The 24-year-old Toledo man was found guilty Friday of two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of kidnapping, and one count of aggravated burglary. He was also found guilty of capital specifications attached to the murder charges.

Judge Mandros can sentence life in prison without eligibility of parole, life in prison with parole eligibility after 30 years, and life in prison with parole eligibility after 25 years for each of the aggravated murder charges. He also faces up to 11 years in prison on each of the additional counts.

Williams was found guilty 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.

As part of their deliberations last week, jurors found Williams guilty of the death specification involving multiple victims but found him not guilty of the specification that he was the principal offender of the crime.

The jury listened to testimony from six witnesses Monday presented by the defense, including Williams’ mother, wife, and half-sister. They were then asked to decide whether the aggravating circumstance of the crime outweighed mitigating factors presented.

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