Tuesday, September 24, 2019 Elyria 54°

Cops and Courts

Two men arraigned on capital murder charges

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    Antonio Martinez, left, and Lorenzo Garcia appear in Lorain County Common Pleas Court for arraignment on capital murder charges Thursday.



ELYRIA — Two Lorain County men were arraigned on capital murder charges Thursday in connection to the brutal killing of Linda Wisniewski in March.

Lorenzo Garcia, 31, of Elyria, and Antonio Martinez, 24, of Lorain, were arraigned on 38-count and 36-count indictments, respectively, filed in connection with the aggravated murder of Wisniewski, 67, of Lorain.

The cases for both men were assigned to Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski after Betleski’s number was drawn from the rust-colored plastic billiard pill bottle used by the county to randomly draw judges for death penalty cases.

Due to Garcia and Martinez each facing the possibility of a death sentence, the indictments were read in court in their entirety. The reading of each indictment, which contained multiple specifications on many of the counts, took about an hour.

Garcia’s defense attorney, Dan Wightman, tried to waive the reading of his client’s indictment, but the judge handling the arraignments, Common Pleas Judge James Miraldi, denied the motion on the grounds that an appeals court later may take issue.

Police have said that about 10 p.m. March 27, officers responded to a “burglary in progress” call at 3625 Amherst Ave. in Lorain. Officer found Wisniewski dead when they arrived.

Lorain County Coroner Dr. Stephen Evans said Wisniewski suffered multiple stab wounds to the head, trunk and extremities and the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head.

During a hearing at Lorain Municipal Court, the prosecutor said Wisniewski had been duct taped and stabbed multiple times.

Additionally, Kenneth “Chip” Williams, 28, who relatives described as a close family friend of Wisniewski, was found with serious injuries at the home and was taken to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.

During the arraignment in Lorain Municipal Court, authorities said Williams was shot in the back of the head.

Police arrested Garcia and Martinez later that week in connection with the incident, charging them with aggravated murder.

On Thursday, Wightman was appointed to serve as lead attorney for Garcia’s defense. Wightman replaces J. Anthony Rich, who was appointed at the lower court to defend Garcia. Rich withdrew from the case after the capital murder charges came down.

The court said it would appoint an attorney to sit second chair with Wightman.

Martinez is represented by attorney Kreig Brusnahan, who was appointed by the court to sit first chair on the case. Denise Wilms, who was appointed by the lower court, will sit second chair.

Garcia was indicted on eight counts of aggravated murder, five counts of murder, two counts of aggravated burglary, four counts of aggravated robbery, one count of attempted murder, six counts of kidnapping, four counts of felonious assault, two counts of theft, four counts tampering with evidence, one count grand theft of a motor vehicle and a count of having weapons under disability.

Martinez also faces eight counts of aggravated murder, five counts of murder, two counts of aggravated burglary, five counts of aggravated robbery, six counts of kidnapping, four counts of felonious assault, a count of attempted murder, two counts of theft, two counts of tampering with evidence, one count having weapons under disability and grand theft of a motor vehicle.

They both are scheduled to appear before Betleski on Tuesday morning.

Contact Scott Mahoney at 440-329-7146 or smahoney@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @SMahoneyCT.

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