Ohio court hears appeal of killer who stabbed bartender

This undated photo provided by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction shows death row inmate Joseph Thomas of Perry Township in Lake County, Ohio, convicted in 2012 of raping and fatally stabbing Annie McSween, a bartender in Mentor-on-the-Lake, Ohio, whose body was found Nov. 26, 2010. Ohio Supreme Court justices heard arguments Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, for and against executing Thomas, whose lawyers argue he had poor legal assistance at trial. (Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction via AP)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Supreme Court has heard arguments for and against executing a killer sentenced to die for raping and fatally stabbing a bartender.
A judge in 2012 ordered Joseph Thomas to be put to death for the slaying of Annie McSween in Lake County in 2010.
Prosecutors say Thomas attacked the 49-year-old McSween by her car after she asked him to leave the bar where she worked.
Justices on Wednesday heard arguments from attorneys for the 32-year-old Thomas and the state.
Thomas’ lawyers argue he had poor legal assistance at his trial. Prosecutors say the claim has no merit and should be rejected.
Thomas’ execution is likely years away even if the court upholds the sentence because of federal appeals and ongoing lawsuits over lethal injection drugs.