Beacon Journal staff report
The Ohio Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Wednesday on a death penalty appeal by a Canton man who was convicted in the June 2009 slayings of his two children and former mother-in-law.
James Mammone III, now 39, fatally shot Margaret Eakin, 57, and later used a knife to stab and slash his children, Macy, 5, and James IV, 3, as they sat in their car seats.
Mammone told a Stark County jury at the time of his 2010 trial that he was motivated by social and religious beliefs and personal frustration over divorce proceedings filed by his wife, Marcia Eakin.
The couple’s divorce was finalized about two months before the murders.
Mammone’s appeal, according to court officials, primarily asserts that publicity about the case was so pervasive in the Canton area that no impartial jury could be found. Failing to change venue, his lawyers contend, deprived Mammone of his right to a fair trial.
Among other claims of error in the case, Mammone’s attorneys will argue that his trial lawyers were ineffective because they did not adequately ask potential jurors about their views regarding the death penalty, what they knew and thought about the case based on pretrial publicity, and whether they could consider mitigating factors in Mammone’s behalf during the penalty phase of his trial.
There also is a claim that prosecutors inflamed the jury by repeatedly showing crime scene and autopsy photos to a point that was beyond the boundaries set by the Ohio Supreme Court.