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Published: Thursday, 3/4/2004

Plea deal helps killer avoid facing execution

Stone Stone

One of two men accused in the murder last summer of an 89-year-old central Toledo woman entered into a plea bargain yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court that will spare him from a possible-death penalty sentence.

Curtis Stone, 19, whose mother was a friend of the victim, Amelia Topolski, pleaded guilty to one count each of murder and aggravated burglary, and in return prosecutors will dismiss specifications in the indictment that call for a possible death-penalty punishment.

Mrs. Topolski was found July 2 in the upstairs bedroom of her home at 1250 Nebraska Ave. A life-long resident of the neighborhood, she was gagged with electrical tape, tied with string, and dropped on her head.

Stone was found guilty by Judge William Skow. When he is sentenced March 22, he faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison but could be eligible for parole after 15 years. He also could be sentenced to an additional 10 years for the aggravated burglary.

Stone and Andrew Flanigan, 20, were arrested after the victim s 2000 Plymouth Neon was found behind Stone s residence at 2407 Glenwood Ave. Each was indicted on one count of aggravated murder, aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, and kidnapping.

J. Christopher Anderson, an assistant county prosecutor, said the terms of the plea bargain given to Stone have been extended to Mr. Flanigan. A hearing for Mr. Flanigan is scheduled for tomorrow before Judge James Jensen. He also is facing potential death-penalty specifications.

June Chesher, the victim s only child, clasped the hand of her husband, Daniel, during the hearing. They sat behind the defendant s parents. The defendant s father, Curtis Stone, is a Toledo police officer.

Mrs. Chesher declined comment after the hearing.

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