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Toledoan serving 2 life terms pleads not guilty in '85 death

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Wesley Ulis of Toledo, who is serving life sentences for two 1988 slayings, talks with his court-appointed attorney, David Klucas, left, before entering his plea in another case.

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A Toledo man who is serving life sentences for killing a woman and her daughter pleaded not guilty yesterday to a 1985 murder in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

Wesley Ulis, 38, is charged with the murder of Josephine Richmond. He pleaded not guilty to the indictment, which carries death-penalty specifications, for rape, aggravated burglary, and aggravated robbery.

Judge James Bates accepted the pleas and appointed attorney David Klucas to serve as co-counsel. John Thebes, a Toledo attorney, was earlier appointed to represent Ulis.

Ulis is serving life sentences in the Lorain Correctional Institution for the murders of Stephanie Smith and her 6-year-old daughter, Nateasha Smith. They were found strangled in August, 1988, in their East Woodruff Street apartment. A co-defendant in the murders, James McWhite, Sr., who is Nateasha Smith's father, was convicted of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder. He is serving 15 years to life in prison.

Judge Bates scheduled a pretrial hearing for Jan. 3. A trial date has not been set.

Ulis was indicted in the murder of Ms. Richmond after authorities used DNA evidence taken from the 1985 investigation to match it with the computer DNA database of prisoners in state facilities. Ms. Richmond, 40, was found March 18, 1985, in a second-floor bedroom of a two-story house that she shared with her boyfriend on Clinton Street.

Ms. Richmond died of multiple stab wounds in the upper part of her body and strangulation from clothing and rope-like material that had been wrapped around her neck.

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