CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The man convicted of killing a couple who owned a car dealership in Cleveland was sentenced to death by Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Brian Corrigan on Tuesday.
Joseph McAlpin, 31, was found guilty on 11 charges, including two counts of aggravated murder, stemming from the deadly robbery in April of 2017.
- Aggravated murder
- Aggravated robbery
- Aggravated burglary
- Felonious assault
- Having weapons under disability
- Grand theft
- Cruelty to animals
- Injuring animals
On May 16, the jury assigned to McAlpin’s trial deliberated for approximately 30 minutes before recommending the death sentence as punishment. Judge Corrigan honored the jury’s recommendation by finding capital punishment fit for McAlpin’s crimes.
The death sentence will now be appealed directly to the Supreme Court of Ohio.
McAlpin was convicted in April of killing 46-year-old Trina Tomola, 50-year-old Michael Kuznik, and their dog at the married couple’s car dealership, Mr. Cars, on East 185th Street in 2017. The couple’s son found their bodies later that evening, both with fatal gunshot wounds to their heads.
Several cars and cash were also stolen.
McAlpin represented himself throughout the trial, which began on March 18.
Family of the victims did not want to address McAlpin in open court during Tuesday’s sentencing, but Cleveland Councilman Michael Polensek was willing to speak:
“I saw what this individual did to them. The viciousness of the crime. He is a demonic killer. It’s one thing to rob somebody, but it’s another thing to do what he did. Him and his cohorts, what they are, are predators.”
“This crime on Good Friday not only devastated the family and tore that family apart, but devastated the community,” Polensek exclaimed passionately.
Councilman Polensek also spoke to 19 News reporter Harry Boomer after the ruling.
“This horrific crime has forever broken the hearts of the family and friends of Michael and Trina Kuznik,” said Prosecutor O’Malley. “Twelve citizens of this county and now a judge have determined the death sentence was the only appropriate punishment. Given the facts and circumstance of this case, I wholeheartedly agree.”
McAlpin showed little emotion through the trial, and Tuesday offered a few words regarding the death sentence:
“My fight is going to continue. I know people are tied of hearing that.”
Two additional suspects, Jerome Diggs and Andrew Keener, are also charged in connection with the murders. The three were linked to the crime through DNA found at the scene and cellphone pings on nearby towers in the area of the murders.
Keener pleaded guilty and was one of 33 witnesses to testify against McAlpin during the trial that lasted 22 days. He said McAlpin was the gunman and mastermind behind the deadly robbery.
Keener was scheduled to be sentenced this May, but the proceedings were delayed until a later date after his attorneys requested closure in McAlpin’s legal process first.
Diggs has a pretrial court appearance scheduled for June 3.