Death-row inmate’s conviction overturned after “knife collection” deemed prejudicial.

Joseph Thomas of Perry Township in Lake County, Ohio. Thomas is accused of raping and fatally stabbing Annie McSween, a bartender in Mentor-on-the-Lake, Ohio, whose body was found Nov. 26, 2010.  (Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction via AP)

An Ohio man, convicted in 2012 of raping and murdering a young female bartender, has had his conviction overturned. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the trial judge’s decision to allow evidence of the man’s “collection” of a whopping 5 knives was prejudicial since they were not used in the killing. Prosecutors had argued, and the trial judge had agreed, that the absence of a blue knife with which the perp had been frequently seen, was circumstantial evidence in the case.

From Mercury News:

“This evidence painted Thomas as someone with bad character and allowed the jury to convict him on the basis that he acted in conformity with it,” O’Donnell said.

Justice Patrick Fischer, writing for the minority, noted that prosecutors argued Thomas was known to carry a blue knife, and that knife was missing from his collection. Fischer acknowledged it was a “close question” whether introducing that evidence was a mistake.

Lake County Prosecutor Charles Coulson said Wednesday he’ll ask the court to reconsider its decision.

The knife collection “was introduced because the defendant had a blue knife, people saw the defendant having a blue knife that night, when we go to his collection, the blue knife is missing,” Coulson said. “So that’s circumstantial evidence toward part of the crime.”

The media frequently engages in hyperbole when they use the word “arsenal” to describe the guns and ammo found in a killer’s home. It is usually less than I bring on a typical trip to the range. At least in the case of the Vegas killer, they weren’t way off base.

But if a “collection” of 5 knives is prejudicial as to one’s character, I’m screwed. I think that there are 5 knives in the cab of my Tacoma. More if you count my EDCs.



  1. Brad Griffin says:

    Yep, I’m screwed too…there’s 8 on my desk.

  2. mer says:

    Do good kitchen knives count?
    How about the one left in every room “just in case you need it”?

    Add me to the “screwed” list

  3. Sam L. says:

    Me, too. I have knives in my jackets, my vests, my pants, my car, and even more in storage. Then there are the kitchen knives…

  4. On one occasion, I had to explain to LEO that knives were my business~my livelihood~if you count my antiques Katana, Choora, Jimbaya, quite an “arsenal.”

  5. Hell,…some days I have 5 knives on my body! And really, five knives is not much of a collection, but it’s a good “start”. 🙂

    Sometimes I BUY 5 vintage folders in one day,…geeze. I love the vintage Case 11031SH Sheepsfoot folders, among others,… so much useful knife for just $30 to $50 each usually, and make great gifts too!

    Like most folks I have lots of pockets to fill, and also carry one on a neck cord under a shirt. Some small pen knife 2″ blade sizes, a few in 2-1/2 to 3″ blades for lunch on the road use (gotta work on my patina :-),…and of course at least one of a modest but more defensive blade length of 3-1/2″ or so. (still pretty short for self defense, but doesn’t raise eyebrows either). This on top of several of my own Ti Rod Tactical Titanium Yawara Sticks.

    ….pockets are usually full as a result,…barely have room for my key ring,…which by the way also carries a small knife,…. currently a wood handled vintage 2-1/2″ tool steel sheepsfoot Camillus with a steel carry loop at the butt end.

    ….so many knives,…so few pockets! 🙂

    Joe T

  6. stuartb says:

    Some of my knives even have knives!

  7. knightofbob says:

    I can think of five knives sitting on the end tables flanking the recliner I’m in right now. Once I throw away some of the junk mail and other accumulation, I might find a couple more.

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Death-row inmate’s conviction overturned after “knife collection” deemed prejudicial.

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