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Published: Tuesday, 6/9/2009

Man will face 3 ex-wives in murder trial

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Zich Zich
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A Swanton man accused of killing his wife nearly 18 years ago will face three other ex-wives during his murder trial. A Lucas County Common Pleas Court judge ruled Monday that their testimony could be admitted.

Thomas Zich, 52, is charged with murder in the 1991 strangulation death of Mary Jane Zich. His anticipated two-week trial is set to begin with jury selection this afternoon.

Monday, Judge Gene Zmuda denied a defense motion to exclude the testimony of the three women. He added that some of the testimony still could be limited if it is determined during the trial that it is inappropriate.

Assistant County Prosecutor J. Christopher Anderson said during a hearing that the testimony of the three women would help in identification, a key issue in the trial. He added that like Mary Jane Zich, the women who would testify were married to the defendant and that their experiences would show "how he used force to obtain control." "When he gets angry, he attacks the neck or throat area," Mr. Anderson argued.

Defense attorney Alan Konop countered that the testimony would potentially sway the jury and that the acts that would be described would "not rise to the same level of offense." He said the women's testimony was about being choked, not strangled.

Specifically, he said that although one of the women would testify that Mr. Zich allegedly held her against her will and had "contact to the throat," he said that the action is different from the facts of the case.

Mary Jane Zich, whose body was found in the trunk of her car on Dec. 18, 1991, died as a result of ligature strangulation.

Judge Zmuda said after his ruling on the motion, which was filed under seal, that the issue could be revisited if the testimony of the women differed from what was anticipated. Late last week, he also ruled that the victim's daughter, who was 3 years old at the time, could testify to any memories she had of the incident.

Twenty-seven witnesses are expected to testify for the state during the trial. Mr. Zich faces life in prison if convicted.



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