A Lancaster County jury has returned a death verdict in the conviction of Leeton Thomas, found guilty Tuesday of two counts of first-degree murder for the stabbings of a woman and her daughter.
The same jury that decided Thomas’ guilt regarding the June 11, 2015, crimes also deliberated, Wednesday, over what sentence he will face.
Following a day-long hearing, the panel decided Wednesday around 8:15 p.m. that Thomas should face the death penalty.
Thomas, 40, will be formally sentenced Friday morning by Lancaster County President Judge Dennis Reinaker.
Thomas killed Lisa Scheetz and her 16-year-old daughter and nearly killed Scheetz’ 15-year-old daughter in the early-morning attack inside Scheetz’s Spring Valley Road home.
He was convicted Tuesday afternoon of two counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder, and burglary.
First Assistant District Attorney Christopher Larsen, who won the conviction, outlined Wednesday five “aggravating factors” for the jury to consider when deciding Thomas’ fate.
- Thomas killed witnesses in a separate criminal prosecution (his pending sex-abuse case);
- Thomas committed the killing(s) during the commission of another felony (burglary);
- Thomas killed multiple people;
- Thomas broke a court order (a no-contact order) during the killings;
- Thomas presented a grave risk of death to another individual (the 15-year-old girl) besides those he killed.
The jury started deliberations over the sentence Wednesday about 4 p.m.
In closing arguments Tuesday morning, Larsen said Thomas attacked the mother and daughters in attempts to eliminate witnesses from upcoming precedings regarding the alleged sex assault.
"The defendant thought he could avoid the consequences of his actions by committing these horrible, vile murders and attempted murder. However, the diligent work of the Pennsylvania State Police, especially Corporal Todd McCurdy, saw to it that he would be held fully accountable," Larsen said Wednesday night.
"The strength of the surviving victim and the voices of her deceased sister and mother, who spoke through evidence presented at trial, were instrumental in bringing him to justice,” Larsen said. “The jury’s verdict is the only right and just verdict for a case as disturbing as this."
In closings, Larsen said Thomas cut a window screen in the Scheetz home, entered, then brutally stabbed the woman and two girls.
The surviving daughter, now 17, testified during the trial that “Pie” – a nickname for Thomas – was the killer.
State police Trooper Todd McCurdy filed charges.
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