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Published: Wednesday, 6/17/2009

Swanton man guilty in strangulation death of his fourth wife

BLADE STAFF

Nearly 18 years after her death, Thomas Zich, 62, was convicted of killing his wife, Mary Jane, and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

The jury of six men and six women deliberated most of Wednesday afternoon in Lucas County Common Pleas Court returned the verdict about 4 p.m.

The trial lasted about a week, and the jury heard from two dozen witnesses who painted a picture of a couple with a rocky marriage and of a husband who told conflicting stories in the days and weeks after his wife s disappearance.

Zich, of Swanton, was indicted two years ago for murder after the case was reopened by cold case detectives.

During opening statements, Zich s attorney, Alan Konop, said many of the facts of the case were undisputed, namely that the couple had an unsteady marriage, that they bought homes together, and that on Dec. 18, 1991, Mrs. Zich was found dead by strangulation in the trunk of her car in East Toledo.

The discovery of her body was about three weeks after she was last seen alive and almost two weeks after Mr. Zich reported her missing.

Although three ex-wives of Zich testified about his abusive treatment of them, one witness the jury did not hear from was Mrs. Zich s daughter, Desiree Andaverde, now 20.

Before the trial, Mr. Konop had argued her testimony would be unreliable because of her age at the time of the incident.

Judge Gene Zmuda, ruled Ms. Andaverde could testify, but prosecutors concluded their case without calling her.

Mr. Konop presented no witnesses.



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