Bartender Murder: Jury to Decide Life or Death

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Joseph Thomas, 28, of Perry Twp.

LAKE COUNTY, Ohio — Family members of Joseph Thomas, of Perry Twp., took the stand on Wednesday in the case of Annie McSween. 

Thomas was recently convicted of raping and murdering the 49-year-old grandmother on Thanksgiving weekend 2010. 

The family is begging the jury to give Thomas, 28, life in prison instead of the death penalty. 

McSween was a bartender at the Lakeway Lounge in Mentor-On-The-Lake.  

According to Lake County prosecutors, McSween told Thomas to leave the bar and he did. 

At about 4 a.m., he attacked her by her car, raped her and stabbed her multiple times in the neck. 

Annie McSween

A few months later, police found her burned clothing and her purse inside a bin in the backyard where Thomas was staying.

Thomas still claims he’s innocent.

His family members said Thomas had a rough childhood, absent of active parents in his life. 

His brother said when he drank his anger got the best of him. 

“Numerous times a woman made him angry and he’s gone and punched a telephone pole, a tree or another guy.  But, I’ve never seen him even raise a hand to a woman,” said James Thomas. 

Character testimony will likely wrap up Thursday morning, then the jury will decide if Thomas will get life in prison, or death.