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Jury deliberations to continue Tuesday for man accused of killing two at Cleveland car dealership

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CLEVELAND-- Closing arguments were on Monday for the man accused of murdering two people at a car dealership on Cleveland's east side in 2017.

Joseph McAlpin, 29, is charged with aggravated murder, murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, kidnapping, grand theft and cruelty to animals. He is representing himself and did not call any witnesses before resting his case on Wednesday. The jury began deliberations Monday before concluding for the day; deliberations will continue Tuesday morning.

If convicted, he could be sentenced to death.

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office said McAlpin and two co-defendants went to Mr. Cars in the Collinwood neighborhood on April 14, 2017 to steal vehicles.

While the other two men waited down the street, McAlpin shot and killed Michael Kuznik, 50, and Trina Tomola-Kuznik, 46, according to prosecutors. He's also accused of killing the family dog before the group stole two cars from the lot.

"Yesterday was two years since Michael and Trina went through what they went through. And I was just thinking about those final moments, what fear," said Brian Radigan, assistant prosecuting attorney.

The couple's 19-year-old son discovered their bodies inside the family-owned business.

McAlpin's DNA was found in several places at the crime scene, prosecutors said.

"I'm pretty sure that the testimony of the witness said we can't tell you when it (the DNA) was left there, how long it has been there or who put it there," McAlpin said. "As it's already been said through experts, DNA is very transferable. This is not fingerprints."

Andrew Keener, 23, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and grand theft, and testified against McAplin.

"Not one time have we heard anybody say we saw Joseph McAlpin walk in and out of this place. Not one," McAlpin said. He also tried to discredit Keener, saying his co-defendant attempted to minimize his involvement in the murders.

"Stop it, man. Would anyone of you ladies and gentlemen trust Mr. Keener with your personal affairs?"

The third defendant and McAlpin's brother, 22-year-old Jerome Diggs, has a pretrial scheduled for April 30.

 

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