DA keeping death penalty an option in triple homicide case

Franklin County District Attorney Matthew Fogal is keeping the death penalty on the table in the case of Kevin Cleeves, the Waynesboro man charged in the killing of his estranged wife and two others.

Fogal said Friday he has filed a notice of aggravating circumstances, which will allow him to keep the opportunity to file for the death penalty.

Cleeves, 35, faces three counts of criminal homicide in the July 20 shooting deaths of 25-year-old Brandi Cleeves and her boyfriend, 28-year-old Vincent Santucci, and Santucci's mother, 55-year-old Rosemary Holma.

Fogal spoke on behalf of the victims' families.

“It is not possible to put into words the loss and the suffering the defendant has caused all of our families and our friends,” he said. “Parents, children, grandchildren, nieces and others have been changed forever by this tragedy.”

Cleeves is accused of shooting the three in the front yard of Santucci's home in the 7600 block of Anthony Road in Quincy Township, near Mont Alto, before fleeing to Ohio with his four-year-old daughter, Leia, who was present at the time of the shootings, according to authorities.

Fogal said there are four aggravating circumstances that qualify Cleeves for the death penalty if convicted of the crimes against him; that he committed the killings while committing another felony, the kidnapping of his daughter; that he knowingly created a grave risk of death to his daughter in addition to his murder victims; and two factors that he killed more than one person during the incident.

Cleeves remains in the Franklin County Jail without bail on three counts of criminal homicide. He also faces charges of kidnapping, interfering with the custody of a child, unlawful restraint of a minor, endangering the welfare of a child, and unlawful possession of a firearm.

A scholarship fund for Leia Cleeves has been set up at F&M Trust to help pay for her health and education.

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