- Associated Press - Friday, September 25, 2015

QUARRYVILLE, Pa. (AP) - Prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty in the case of a man accused of stabbing a woman and her 16-year-old daughter to death because they were scheduled to testify against him in a 2013 child sex assault case.

Leeton Thomas, 38, of Quarryville is charged in Lancaster County in the June 11 slayings of Lisa Scheetz, 44, and her daughter Hailey. A 15-year-old daughter was also stabbed in the chest, shoulder and back and critically injured but was able to get away and get help from a neighbor. A third daughter, 13, wasn’t home at the time.

In June, District Attorney Craig Stedman called the slayings a “premeditated assassination.”

Prosecutors said Thursday that the death penalty is warranted for numerous reasons: the case involves multiple homicides; the victims were killed to prevent them from testifying; the deaths occurred during the course of a felony burglary; another person was attacked; and the alleged perpetrator violated a no-contact order.

The public defender representing Thomas didn’t immediately return a message Friday seeking comment.

Gov. Tom Wolf has announced a moratorium on the use of the death penalty pending a review, but Stedman said that doesn’t mean his office won’t seek capital punishment.

“We follow the laws and the law of the land is still the death penalty,” he said. “We’re not going to be influenced by politicians. We’ll follow the law.”

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