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Day 4: Triple Homicide Trial of Curtis Clinton

Jessica Cuffman • Nov 1, 2013 at 1:30 PM

Attorneys and Erie County Common Pleas Judge Tygh Tone spent about two hours Friday morning, taking care of some housekeeping issues in the triple homicide trial.

With the jury sent home for the weekend Thursday, they discussed final jury verdict forms for the multiple counts of aggravated murder filed against Curtis Clinton, 42, for the killings of Heather Jackson, 23, and her children, Celina, 3, and Wayne Jr., 20 months.

Page-by-page, attorneys also debated the more than 20 pages of jury instructions to be read by Tone before the 12 people to decide Clinton's fate are sent to deliberate.

Prosecutors also submitted about 160 pieces of evidence for the jury to consider, including: Rape kits, medical records, DNA samples, forensic reports, police reports, autopsy photos, crime scene photos, a map, ATM and Kroger receipts, a video of a detective's interview with Clinton, 911 calls made to police, hospital surveillance video footage, and a recording of a phone call Clinton made to his mother from the county jail.

Defense attorneys objected to only two sets of evidence — records related to the 1997 killing of 18-year-old Misty Keckler in Fostoria.

Clinton was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in her death and spent 13 years in prison.

His attorneys also objected to evidence related to Clinton's alleged rape of a 17-year-old Clyde girl, six days before Jackson and her children were killed.

His attorneys say that case should have been tried separately from the aggravated murder charges.

Clinton appeared briefly in court, and his attorneys asked Tone to dismiss the case for lack of evidence presented by the state during three previous days of testimony.

But Tone denied the request.

If the defense calls any witnesses, they'll take the stand Monday morning when the jurors return from the weekend break.

Prosecutors finished presenting their case Thursday.

Attorney David Doughten said for now, Clinton doesn't plan to take the stand in his own defense.

"We have spoken to Mr. Clinton ad nauseam about his right to testy," he said.

After that discussion and the recommendations from his other two attorneys, Robert Dixon and Kimberly Kendall, who also advised him not to take the stand, Clinton agreed Friday morning.

"We think that's a wise decision," Doughten said.

But Clinton still has the right to change his mind.

If Clinton is found guilty of the aggravated murder charges filed against him, he could face the death penalty.

The same jury who decides whether he's guilty will be charged with hearing the second phase of the trial, the death penalty phase.

Be sure to visit sanduskyregister.com, when our staff returns with live coverage from the courtroom Monday morning at 8 a.m.

To see complete coverage from the first day of the trial, click HERE

To see complete coverage from the second day of the trial, click HERE

To see complete coverage from the third day of trial, click HERE


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