TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - A man accused of killing a Springfield Township couple in January 2011 faced a judge and jury Wednesday for the first step in his murder trial. One thing that was clear in opening statements was that there is one key piece of evidence that could play a big role in the case.
An emotionless Cameo Pettaway sat in the courtroom Wednesday morning and listened, as both the prosecution and defense laid out what they think happened in the early morning hours of Jan. 31, 2011. That is when a young couple, Johnny Clarke and Lisa Straub, was found dead in the house, bound by duct tape, with plastic bags over their heads.
The prosecution took the stand first, saying that while there may not be any witnesses, there is still evidence, including a cigarette butt found near the bodies.
"The butt had been smoked by a man named Sam Williams, who is on trial in another court right now. And the other person who smoked that cigarette butt was Cameo," said Tim Braun, assistant Lucas County prosecutor.
Prosecutors said Pettaway worked with at least one other man to ransack the home, force their way into locked rooms looking for money and other valuables, and kill the couple.
But the defense is not buying that.
"DNA, like a cigarette butt, is portable. It can be moved from one place to another," said Mark Geudtner, defense attorney. "The tests cannot prove when, or where, or under what circumstances a person's evidence can be left on an item of evidence."
The defense said Pettaway's DNA was not found anywhere else at the crime scene. They also said there are more suspects the sheriff's department failed to consider and that Pettaway consistently denies any involvement.
Pettaway is charged with two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of kidnapping, and aggravated burglary.
His trial will pick up again Monday when jury selection for Samuel William's, the other man accused in the murder, is complete.
On Tuesday, the death penalty specification was dropped for Pettaway after Judge James Bates decided he did not meet the state's standards due to mental issues. By law, individuals who are mentally challenged cannot face the death penalty.
Pettaway still faces life in prison if convicted.
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