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Published: Thursday, 6/12/2014

Attorney questions evidence in killings

Williams appeals conviction


Nearly two years after Samuel Williams was sentenced to life in prison for the brutal slayings of a young couple in Springfield Township, an attorney handling his appeal argued Wednesday that there simply was not sufficient evidence to convict him.

George Conklin asked the Ohio 6th District Court of Appeals to examine the evidence that was — or was not — presented at Williams’ 2012 trial to prove his involvement beyond a reasonable doubt.

“I challenge you, and I challenge the state, to tell this court specifically how this individual aided and abetted,” Mr. Conklin said. “Mere presence is not sufficient for conviction.”

Williams, now 26, was convicted of two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of kidnapping, and one count of aggravated burglary for the Jan. 30, 2011 asphyxiation deaths of Lisa Straub, 20, and Johnny Clarke, 21.

The two were found at the 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.

A cigarette butt found just inside the door leading to the Straubs’ attached garage was found to contain a mixture of DNA from Williams and co-defendant Cameo Pettaway. Their DNA was not on the duct tape used to bind the victims though.

Mr. Conklin focused on the lack of sufficient evidence during oral arguments before Judges Thomas Osowik, Stephen Yarbrough, and James Jensen.

He cited the testimony of Eric Yingling, a fellow inmate at the Lucas County jail who testified that Williams told him he was at the scene.

“What did he say that Samuel Todd Williams did?” Mr. Conklin asked. “Did he drive the getaway car? Did he provide duct tape? Did he provide plastic bags? What did Yingling say? Nothing. He never specifically identified this particular individual as doing anything.”

Evy Jarrett, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor who argued the state’s case, pointed out that the cigarette butt with Williams’ DNA was found inside the Straub home and Yingling testified that Williams told him he had to break down Ms. Straub’s locked bedroom door and bring her downstairs.

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