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Sam Allard / Scene
A vigil for the Kuzniks at Mr. Cars in Collinwood, (4/21/17).
Joseph McAlpin, the 31-year-old who was found guilty for the 2017 murders of Michael Kuznik and Trina Tomola-Kuznik, as well as their dog Axel, at the Mr. Cars auto lot in Collinwood, has been sentenced to death.
A jury recommended the death penalty and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O'Malley "wholeheartedly" agreed, announcing the sentence Tuesday.
“This horrific crime has forever broken the hearts of the family and friends of Michael and Trina Kuznik,” said O’Malley in a statement provided to the press. “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 had previously served nine years in prison for aggravated robbery and was released in August 2016. When he was arrested in connection with the Mr. Cars murders, he was alleged to be a member of the Heartless Felons gang.
On the night of the murders, (April 14, 2017) McAlpin and two other men drove to Mr. Cars intending to steal multiple vehicles, sell them and split the profits. McAlpin entered the dealership and shot Mike Kuznik twice in the head in the dealership showroom. Trina Tomola-Kuznik was in a back office. McAlpin shot her in the head as well. He shot the family dog in the hallway.
McAlpin's trial lasted for one month in March and April of this year. He was linked to the crime by DNA evidence, found on Mike Kuznik’s back pocket, a computer modem near Trina Tomola-Kuznik, and on the interior of a BMW that he stole from the lot. McAlpin and his co-defendants’ cellphones pinged off towers and wireless internet routers in the area at the time of the murders.
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