By: Don Shaw email: don.shaw@pennsylvaniachronicle.com (570) 543-2961

PA Supreme Court: it’s the death penalty for man who killed mother and daughter

PA Supreme Court: it’s the death penalty for man who killed mother and daughter

Lancaster, PA

 

A Lancaster County man convicted of killing a woman and her daughter because they were potential witnesses in his pending sexual assault case was granted no relief this week from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The court found nothing to overturn Leeton Thomas’ conviction or death sentence regarding the June 11, 2015, killings in East Drumore Township.

Thomas was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and related charges for killing Lisa Scheetz and her 16-year-old daughter, and nearly killing Scheetz’ 15-year-old daughter, in the early-morning attack at the Scheetz home.

The state Supreme Court issued an order Tuesday rejecting Thomas’ claims that his conviction went against the evidence and that an eyewitness should not have been permitted to testify at trial. The state court is required to review all death sentences and, in this case, found the jury’s death verdict was not a “product of passion,” but rather involved a proper consideration of all evidence presented to them. “The evidence was sufficient to support… aggravating factors beyond a reasonable doubt,” the appellate court’s 28-page opinion states.

Then-Lancaster County First Assistant District Attorney Christopher Larsen, who won the conviction, presented these aggravating factors to the jury: – 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 surviving daughter testified during the trial that “Pie” – a nickname for Thomas – was the killer. While ordering the death sentence, President Judge Dennis Reinaker said that should Pennsylvania lift a moratorium on executions, Thomas “should go to the very top of the list.”

Assistant District Attorney Ande Gonzalez and First Assistant District Attorney Travis S. Anderson represented the Commonwealth in the post-conviction matters. “The Supreme Court’s decision is absolutely appropriate,” Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said Tuesday. “Leeton Thomas is evil defined. We have no doubt it was his intent to slaughter that family.”

Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Todd McCurdy led the initial investigation into this case.

About The Author

Don Shaw

Don Shaw journalist covering local news for The Pennsylvania Chronicle (717) 461-2107 don.shaw@pennsylvaniachronicle.com