LANCASTER, Pa. — A man could face the death penalty after being convicted Tuesday in the stabbing deaths of a Pennsylvania woman and her 16-year-old daughter who were scheduled to testify against him in a child sex assault case.
Lancaster County prosecutors earlier said they would seek capital punishment against Leeton Thomas, 40, who was convicted Tuesday of two counts of first-degree murder in the June 2015 slayings of Lisa Sheetz, 44, and her daughter Hailey.
First Assistant District Attorney Christopher Larsen said Thomas broke into the basement apartment intent on getting rid of witnesses who were to testify against him at a court hearing in two weeks.
“He was not going to let that happen,” Larsen told the jury in his closing argument. “This was nothing less than an assassination. … He went in there thinking he could wipe them all out.”
Prosecutors cited DNA evidence and eyewitness testimony from a then-15-year-old daughter who survived multiple stab wounds and told rescuers that Thomas, once a family friend, was the killer. Jurors, who deliberated for about 2½ hours following closing arguments Tuesday, also convicted Thomas of attempted homicide of the surviving daughter, now 17, and of burglary.
Defense attorney Douglas Conrad cited discrepancies in testimony and physical evidence. He also suggested that a neighbor of the victims might be responsible. The defendant’s wife testified that he went to bed with her that night and woke up when police came four hours later.
A state police investigator testified Monday that Thomas asked to be shot in the head after being charged, LNP newspaper reported.
Jurors will hear testimony beginning Wednesday on whether Thomas should be sentenced to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.