CLEVELAND — Joseph McAlpin, the man convicted of murdering a local couple at Mr. Cars dealership in Cleveland, could learn his fate by the end of this week. McAlpin faces the death penalty for the April 2017 murders of Michael and Trina Kuznik, and their dog.
On Monday, before the sentencing phase, McAlpin made a motion for a new trial, upset about some of the things prosecutors said in their closing arguments during his trial. The judge denied his request for a new trial. McAlpin represented himself during the weeks-long trial that ended on April 16 after a jury found him guilty on charges relating to the murders and the robbery at the dealership.
On Monday, the prosecutors did not call any witnesses — they believe they made their case for why McAlpin should be sentenced to death during the trial. McAlpin called six family members to the stand to testify on his behalf.
They testified McAlpin's life changed after he found his mother dead when he was young and after his father and older brother moved to North Carolina.
"He had a hard life growing up," said John McAlpin, Joseph's uncle. "He's seen a lot of things he shouldn't have seen as a child."
"We got along beautifully," said John Nielsen, McAlpin's father. "He stayed out of trouble. I left and went back to North Carolina and I don't know what has happened."
McAlpin said Monday's showing in court is the closest he's seen his family in years.
"I feel and believe in my heart that this may be a reason to bring my family back together as one," McAlpin told the jury. "Maybe I had to be the sacrifice."
Prosecutors pointed out that McAlpin had juvenile court convictions for felonious assault, drug trafficking, escape and other charges. He also served nearly nine years in prison for an aggravated robbery conviction.
Because one of the witnesses was not available until Thursday, the sentencing hearing was recessed until Thursday at 8:45 a.m.
The jury can make a recommendation to the judge to give him either life, life without parole or the death penalty.
The jury selection began on March 15 and closing arguments wrapped up on April 15.
The jury deliberated for two days and agreed on the final charges:
Count 1: Aggravated Murder (Trina) - Guilty
Count 2: Aggravated Murder (Michael) - Guilty
Count 3: Aggravated Murder (Trina) - Guilty
Count 4: Aggravated Murder (Michael) -Guilty
Count 5: Aggravated Robbery (Trina) - Guilty
Count 6: Aggravated Robbery (Michael) - Guilty
Count 7: Aggravated Robbery (Michael) - Guilty
Count 8: Aggravated Robbery (Trina) - Guilty
Count 9: Aggravated Burglary (Trina) - Guilty
Count 10: Aggravated Burglary (Michael) - Guilty
Count 11: Aggravated Burglary (Trina) - Guilty
Count 12: Aggravated Burglary (Michael) - Guilty
Count 13: Kidnapping (Trina) - Guilty
Count 14: Kidnapping (Michael) - Guilty
Count 15: Murder (Trina) - Guilty
Count 16: Murder (Michael) - Guilty
Count 17: Felonious Assault (Trina) - Guilty
Count 18: Felonious Assault (Michael) - Guilty
Count 19: Felonious Assault (Trina) - Guilty
Count 20: Felonious Assault (Michael) - Guilty
Count 21: Having Weapons Under Disability - Guilty
Count 23: Grand Theft - Guilty
Count 24: Grand Theft - Guilty
Count 25: Injuring Animals - Guilty
Count 26: Cruelty to Animals - Guilty
Throughout the trial, he insisted and maintained his innocence, pointing out that he was no monster during his closing arguments.
"The community was in an uproar," said McAlpin. "We all know, the community's in an uproar, the commissioner or whoever it is, the councilman, we need answers now and they're blowing down, make something happen."
Prosecutors fought back allegations that they tried to pin the crime on McAlpin just to have an arrest in the case.
"He wants you to feel sorry for him, that this is a big, statewide, multi-agency conspiracy against Joesph McAlpin" said prosecutor Brian Radigan. "It's ridiculous. It makes me sick to my stomach."
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