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CLARKE/STRAUB MURDERS: CASE links and facts only
Toledo Blade

In an order signed April 24, Judge Bates wrote that an April 20 incident in which Ms. Clark was reported to be "vulgar and uncivilized" 28 led to his decision to ban her from proceedings in his courtroom.

"It appears that Maytee Clark cannot conduct herself with any self control and could cause problems during the course of this trial," the judge wrote. "All family members were previously warned concerning this conduct while in the courthouse."

According to a report of the afternoon incident, Ms. Clark became confrontational with three people who were at the courthouse but not associated with the case.

She also became belligerent with the prosecutor's office's victim witness assistance staff.

just ruled:

An East Toledo man charged in the asphyxiation deaths of a Springfield Township couple is mentally retarded and therefore could not be sentenced to death if found guilty of the murders a judge ruled today.

Lucas County Common Pleas Judge James Bates made the determination about Cameo Pettaway, 22, of 133 Essex St., after hearing testimony Monday from two psychologists who evaluated Mr. Pettaway.

The ruling means prosecutors cannot seek the death penalty against Mr. Pettaway if a jury finds him guilty in the asphyxiation deaths of Lisa Straub, 20, and her boyfriend, Johnny Clarke, 21. The two victims were found dead Jan. 31, 2011, in the Longacre Lane home of Ms. Straub’s parents.

Executing a person who has developmental disabilities was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2002

Jury selection was to begin this afternoon for Mr. Pettaway. That process began this morning before Judge Dean Mandros for co-defendant, Samuel Williams, 24, of 1626 Kelsey Ave., who, like Mr. Pettaway, is charged with two counts of aggravated murder, one count of aggravated burglary, and two counts of kidnapping.


Johnny Clarke and Lisa Straub were planning to have friends over to her parents’ Springfield Township home and try to buy illegal drugs the night they were brutally murdered, a prosecutor said Wednesday morning.

During opening statements in Lucas County Common Pleas Court in the trial of Cameo Pettaway, Tim Braun, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, told jurors that both Clarke, 21, and Ms. Straub, 20, had gotten into the habit of abusing the prescription painkiller, Percocet.

Clarke had called friends looking for Percocet the night of Jan. 31, 2011, when his final phone call was interrupted when he “verbally confronted” someone inside the Straub home, Mr. Braun said. He promised to call his friend back but never did.

Hours later, Clarke’s father kicked in the front door of the Straubs’ home and found his son and Ms. Straub lying on the floor with plastic bags bound tightly around their necks with black duct tape, Mr. Braun said. Both were dead.

It was a Newport cigarette found near the door leading from the Straubs’ home to the garage that first connected Mr. Pettaway to the crime, Mr. Braun said. His DNA and that of co-defendant, Samuel Williams, was found on the cigarette butt, Mr. Braun said.

Other DNA was found in the house as well, including DNA on the duct tape that belongs to a woman who was never identified.

“A lot of this case is dependent on the circumstantial evidence because the circumstantial evidence demonstrates exactly what was done in that house to Lisa Straub and Johnny Clarke,” Mr. Braun said. “.. The other issue becomes who was involved, and that’s a little harder. And I can tell you right now it’s the belief of the state of Ohio there were other people [who] were involved – not just Cameo Pettaway, not just Samuel Williams.”

Indeed, defense attorney Mark Geudtner countered that the cigarette butt is the only evidence linking Mr. Pettaway, 23, of 133 Essex St., to the crime scene. Mr. Geudtner told the jury that Mr. Pettaway and Mr. Williams are friends who both smoke Newports. “The evidence will show that there are a number of other suspects other than Cameo Pettaway who had motives that are actually more likely than Cameo to have been involved in these homicides,” Mr. Geudtner said.

He suggested sheriff’s investigators failed to follow up leads on those suspects after Mr. Pettaway and Mr. Williams were arrested and that they “manipulated and corrupted” the crime scene in the first place.

“You may be disappointed to learn that at this point actually nobody knows for sure who killed Johnny and Lisa,” he told the jury.

Judge James Bates sent the jury home after opening statements and advised them to return to court at 9 a.m. Monday for the first witnesses. Those witnesses will be called to testify in both Mr. Pettaway’s trial and Mr. Williams’s trial, which will be happening simultaneously in the courtroom of Judge Dean Mandros.

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RE: Johnny S. Clarke & Lisa Straub- young Ohio couple murdered

7/18/2012 1 Title : ORD:JUDGMENT ENTRY
500-000007259 issued by 226 ()
It appearing to the Court that an incident occurred on
July 17, 2012 with Maytee Clarke that potentially could
have caused a mistrial. Ms. Maytee Clarke is precluded
from the courthouse for the cases of State of Ohio v.
Cameo Pettaway and State of Ohio v. Samuel Williams unless
subpoena by any parties and only during her testimony.
7/18/2012 3 Title : JURY TRIAL CONTINUED
804-000001581 issued by 226 ()
July 18, 2012. Court Reporter JANET TERRY, Assistant
DECH and MARK GEUDTNER on behalf of the Defendant, and
Defendant CAMEO PETTAWAY present in court.
Trial continued. Opening statements heard.
Trial to resume July 23, 2012 at 9:00 a.m.
Bond is continued.

Pettaway . beginning of trial

Toledo Blade

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Lucas County Common Pleas Judge James Bates dismissed murder charges today against one of two East Toledo men charged in a double homicide in Springfield Township.

Cameo Pettaway, 23, has been on trial this week for the deaths of Lisa Straub, 20, and Johnny Clarke, 21, who were found asphyxiated with plastic bags over their heads in January, 2011.

After prosecutors rested their case about 2 p.m. today, defense attorney Mark Geudtner made a motion for the charges to be dismissed contending the state had failed to prove its case, presenting just one piece of incriminating evidence: a Newport cigarette butt with Mr. Pettaway’s DNA on it.

Judge Bates took a 10-minute break to consider the motion before returning with his decision to dismiss two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of kidnapping, and one count of aggravated burglary against Mr. Pettaway.

Security was heavy in the courtroom as the decision was announced.

Members of Mr. Pettaway's family left the courtroom shortly after the judge announced his decision of dismissal. They were headed to the Lucas County jail where Mr. Pettaway was expected to be released.

"God gave us a victory," said Mr. Pettaway's mother, Kenyatta Baker.

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Toledo Blade July 27
An East Toledo man charged in the brutal asphyxiation deaths of a Springfield Township couple was found guilty today by a Lucas County Common Pleas Court jury.

Samuel Williams, 24, was convicted of two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of kidnapping, and one count of aggravated burglary.

The jury of nine women and three men returned the verdict at about 10 a.m. today, after deliberating for more than seven hours. The guilty verdict means that Williams will undergo a second phase of trial, beginning Monday, to determine if he faces the death penalty.

Williams was charged in the Jan. 30, 2011, deaths of Lisa Straub, 20, and Johnny Clarke, 21. The couple were found in the Springfield Township home of Ms. Straub’s parents with their hands bound behind their backs and plastic bags secured around their necks with duct tape. Clarke’s ankles also were bound with duct tape.

Common Pleas Judge James Bates on Thursday acquitted a second defendant, Cameo Pettaway, on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

[Image: CTY-williams27p-Street-Address-10677-Fre...ysburg.jpg]


Jurors on Monday said they could not make a recommendation in the death-penalty trial phase for a man found guilty in the asphyxiation deaths of a Springfield Township couple.

The jurors’ announcement in Lucas County Common Pleas Court means that Judge Dean Mandros can’t impose a death sentence for Samuel Williams.

Toledo Blade

A Toledo man was sentenced to serve two consecutive life terms in prison without parole today, plus another concurrent 30 years, for the 2011 asphyxiation deaths of a Springfield Township couple.

Samuel Williams, 24, was ordered to serve life without parole in prison for each of two counts of aggravated murder for the deaths of Lisa Straub and Johnny Clarke. The couple were found in the Springfield Township home of Ms. Straub’s parents with their hands bound behind their backs and plastic bags secured around their necks with duct tape. Clarke’s ankles also were bound with duct tape.

Judge Dean Mandros also ordered Williams to serve 10 years for each of two counts of kidnapping and one count of aggravated burglary. The sentences were ordered to be served concurrently.

Williams was convicted July 27 after a week-long trial that included 27 witnesses and more than 130 exhibits. A jury of nine women and three men deliberated over two days before returning guilty verdicts to each of the charges.

But although jurors unanimously agreed on Williams’ guilt, they could not reach a consensus on a sentence recommendation.

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a number of case-related videos here:

Witness says defendant talked in jail

Scene of couple's killings described, ex-inmate testifies


Samuel Williams, left, speaks with his attorney, John Thebes, during his murder trial. He could face the death penalty for the 2011 killing of Johnny Clarke and Lisa Straub in Springfield Township.

Samuel Williams wasn't very open about his case with fellow inmates at the Lucas County jail until one night when he shared insight about events inside a Springfield Township home in January, 2011, said a Toledo man who testified Tuesday in Lucas County Pleas Court.

"One of the things [Williams] said was that he'll never forget how the bag made a crinkle noise when Lisa [Straub] breathed in," said Erik Yingling, who was incarcerated at the jail in December, 2011, with Williams. " … They were trying to torture them, for lack of a better word, to try to get Johnny [Clarke] to tell where the safe and money was."

Yingling testified before a jury Tuesday during the second day of testimony in the capital murder case against Williams, 24, of 1626 Kelsey Ave. Williams and co-defendant Cameo Pettaway, 23, are each charged with two counts of aggravated murder and kidnapping and one count of aggravated burglary.

Mr. Pettaway, who was found to be developmentally disabled and thus ineligible for the death penalty, is being tried simultaneously in another courtroom.

The men are charged in the asphyxiation deaths of Clarke, 23, and Ms. Straub, 21. The couple were found bound with duct tape and with bags over their heads in the Longacre Lane home of Ms. Straub's parents, where they lived.

During his testimony, Yingling said Williams was very tight-lipped about his case and never shared any of his paperwork with others in the cell block. He said that only a few times did Williams share information, likely because Yingling had already been sentenced to prison for his case and so was not considered "suspicious."

Yingling testified that Williams told him that he, Mr. Pettaway, and a third man went to the Straub home looking for heroin and cash.

"They did not go there to kill anybody," he testified, saying that he was told that the couple were tied up and that they put a bag over Ms. Straub's head to force Clarke to tell them where the money was hidden.

" … They would asphyxiate her until she passed out and then give her air. The third time, she didn't wake up," Yingling said.

Yingling further testified that Williams said that all they found was "monopoly money" -- cash with former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein depicted on it. He testified that Williams said they didn't take it because they didn't know how to change it into American dollars.

Ms. Straub's father, Jeff, previously testified he'd purchased about $4,500 in Iraqi currency as an investment.

Attorney John Thebes questioned Yingling on his judicial release from prison after serving about one month. Yingling said he was released, placed in work release for 45 days, served time on electronic monitoring, and is currently on four years of probation.

Mr. Thebes further questioned Yingling on the information he provided and how some of it was available by searching the Internet. He said the rest could be obtained from Williams' papers when Williams was in court or during recreation time.

Yingling did not testify during Mr. Pettaway's trial before Judge James Bates. Testifying before both juries was Clarke's father, John P. Clarke, Jr., who forced in the door at the Straub home to find his son's and Ms. Straub's bodies. The elder Clarke stared at both defendants during his testimony.

"His feet were taped. His ankles were taped. … He had a bag over his head," the elder Clarke told a jury of nine women and three men in Williams' trial. "The first thing I thought was that I have to rip this bag off and give him CPR. … I put my hands on his head to turn it and it was stiff as a board."

Taking time to steady himself, he testified about looking for, and eventually finding, his son during the early morning hours of Jan. 31, 2011. He said that after realizing his son was dead, he tore open the bag covering Ms. Straub's face where a "horrible odor of spoiled blood" emitted. "These kids were tortured to death," he said.

During the first day of testimony, several of the victims' acquaintances testified, including Tiffany Williams (unrelated to the defendant), who called Clarke on the night he died and heard him talking to an unknown man, asking who he was and what he was doing. Several of Clarke's friends said that Clarke was known to brag about money when he had it, and other things that he had.

Also testifying in both trials Tuesday was Alexandra Cousino, 22, who said she knew both victims as well as Williams and Mr. Pettaway. Ms. Cousino testified that Williams and Mr. Pettaway "were friends growing up. They hung out a lot." While she also knew Clarke and Ms. Straub, she said she never introduced them to Williams and Mr. Pettaway.

She testified that Ms. Straub bought a "pit bull" puppy from her for $100, but only paid $50. Ms. Cousino and Clarke also had a dispute in January, 2011, over a car she bought from him but ultimately returned to him. She said she was upset about the car and at one point told Clarke she would beat up his girlfriend.

Judge Bates asked her whether she told Williams or Mr. Pettaway about the dispute with Clarke over the car. She said she did not.

Ed Biederstedt, a special agent with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, was on the stand all morning Tuesday in Mr. Pettway's case.

He walked the jury through a series of photographs depicting the Straub home, the victims' bodies on the kitchen floor, and the locations of evidence he collected from the scene.

Mr. Biederstedt said he found a Newport cigarette butt near the door leading from the kitchen to the garage -- a cigarette that prosecutors said in opening statements was found to have the DNA of both Mr. Pettaway and Williams on it.

He showed the jury two broken cell phones, which were found in pieces in the kitchen and living room, as well as Clarke's black wallet which was found on his stomach.

The defense said in opening statements that the scene was not processed appropriately by investigators, which could have tainted the evidence.

Tanisha Madyun, who has a son with Mr. Pettaway, testified that he was living with her in East Toledo from about August, 2010 until February or March of 2011. Williams, she said, was Mr. Pettaway's longtime friend. Ms. Madyun said that both men smoked Newports, and she saw them share a cigarette more than once.

"Cameo would smoke half and give it to Sam, or Sam would smoke half and give it to Cameo," Ms. Madyun said.

Additional witnesses will testify today in both trials.

If Williams is convicted of the charges, his case will then proceed to a second phase during which the jury will determine whether to recommend death as his sentence.

Judge Dean Mandros is presiding over that case.

Contact Erica Blake at: or 419-213-2134.