OHIO SUPREME COURT Death sentence appealed
Adams was convicted in 2001 of killing Esther Cook and her daughter.
By JEFF ORTEGA
COLUMBUS -- Convicted killer Stanley Theodore Adams' death sentence should be struck down because of errors his lawyers made at trial, his lawyers told the Ohio Supreme Court.
But prosecutors told the state's highest court Tuesday that Adams' convictions in a 1999 double-homicide in Trumbull County were won fair and square and that his sentence should stand.
Attorney Mary Jane Stephens, who represented Adams on Tuesday, said Adams' lawyers should have tried to suppress his statement to police during his 2001 conviction.
Stephens told justices that Adams also was not thoroughly advised of his rights before being questioned by investigators and that the jury was not properly instructed in factors that could have mitigated Adams' sentence.
Because of that, and other problems, justices should reverse Adams' sentence and send the case back to Trumbull County Common Pleas Court for further sentencing, Stephens told the justices.
LuWayne Annos, an assistant Trumbull County prosecutor, said Adams' trial was above board.
& quot;This man had a fair trial, & quot; Annos said.
Police detectives advised Adams of his rights against self-incrimination, she said.
Annos said she believed Adams' lawyers at the time of his trial made a calculated decision to allow Adams' statement, which put him at the crime scene, into evidence because that was a way to get his version of events before the jury without having to put him on the witness stand.
Adams' lawyers at the time of his trial could not immediately be reached to comment for this story.
Annos also said the state believes that the jury was properly instructed in mitigating factors in the case, such as Adams' abusive childhood.
In September 2001, Adams, 37, was convicted of two counts of aggravated murder, rape, burglary and other criminal charges in the deaths of Esther Cook, 43, and her daughter, Ashley Cook, 12.
According to court documents, their bodies were found shortly after noon Oct. 12, 1999, by a family friend at the Cook home in Warren.
According to investigators, Esther Cook had been brutally beaten and stabbed. Ashley Cook was discovered in an upstairs bedroom, lying nude on the floor, authorities said. Ashley Cook had also been beaten and raped, authorities said.
Both had fought to save their lives, according to court documents, as evidenced by defensive wounds on the bodies.
Adams was connected to the crime by DNA and circumstantial evidence, court documents show.
Justice Terrence O'Donnell said Adams appeared to understand his rights on a videotape of his interview with interrogators.
& quot;On the videotape, he appeared to be coherent, & quot; O'Donnell said of Adams.
Adams is being held at the Mansfield Correctional Institution.
The high court is expected to decide the case in the next few months, a court spokesman said.