Sentenced to death: Judge decides fate of man who murdered couple at car dealership

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CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A Cleveland man is heading to Ohio's death row.

Joseph McAlpin, 32, was found guilty last month of aggravated murder, murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, kidnapping, grand theft and cruelty to animals.

A Cuyahoga County jury last week recommended the death penalty and the judge upheld that decision on Tuesday.

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.

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

The Kuznik family gave the following statement:

"This has been a heartbreaking and traumatic two years for our family. We sincerely appreciate the outpouring of support we have received from the community. We would like to thank the prosecution team and the Cleveland homicide detectives, the Cleveland FBI, for the dedicated and countless hours they have put into preparing this case. We would also like to thank the jurors who took time away from their families to spend weeks diligently listening to testimony and examining evidence. Our hearts will be forever broken and we are greatly relieved that justice has been served."

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

During Tuesday's sentencing, Cleveland Councilman Mike Polensek spoke.  "Lethal injection, for him, is too good. He's a demonic killer, and, as far as I'm concerned, he should be burned at the stake."

Polensek asked for justice on behalf of Mike and Trina's family and the entire community.

After the sentencing, Polensek said McAlpin "got what he deserved," and said, "At the end of the day justice was served today. The message has got to be sent clear, you want to commit these violent crimes in our community, there's a price to pay for it, there's a price, and it's you pay for it with your life."

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