Jury recommends death penalty for man convicted of killing Mentor resident Annie McSween

MENTOR, Ohio - A Lake County jury unanimously recommended the death penalty for Joseph Thomas, convicted of killing a Mentor-on-the-Lake bartender, Annie McSween.

Thomas was found guilty of aggravated murder, kidnapping, rape, aggravated robbery and tampering with evidence on Friday. It will now be up to the judge to decide if Thomas heads to death row.

"Honestly, there's not much I want to say to you people," Thomas said, just hours before the jury shared their verdict on Thursday. "First, you guys didn't get all the facts. The prosecutor basically hid the facts from you. The fact is that I passed the polygraph test in January. If you went with the facts, the fact is I passed it. I didn't do this. I'm still here for it. Another man has failed it. Yet he's not here. The rest of it is up to you all to decide. That's all I got to say about that."

Thomas shouted similar things to the media after he war convicted last week. His statement was not under oath, so prosecutors did not have a chance to cross-examine him. The jury was told to disregard Thomas' statement because the polygraph test had previously been ruled inadmissible.

The defense called several witnesses during the mitigation phase of Thomas' trial, which began on Wednesday. His mother, Verna Rodriguez, asked the jury to spare Thomas' life, saying she was a crack addict and left her three young children.

McSween, 49, was found dead behind Mario's Lakeway Lounge on Andrews Road, where she worked, the day after Thanksgiving in 2010. The Lake County Coroner's office said she died from multiple stab wounds, including one to her neck. The homicide was described as "a horrific killing."

Months after her death, McSween's daughter, Erica, died of an accidental drug overdose at her Mentor home.

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