The Repository has turned jailhouse letters over to authorities investigating a triple murder. Canton police issued a subpoena to get the correspondence.
The Repository has turned over to investigators two jailhouse letters that appear to be from triple-murder defendant James Mammone III.
Canton police Sgt. Vic George served the newspaper with a subpoena for the letters Tuesday morning.
“I have no objection to turning over this letter to the authorities if subpoenaed to do so,” said Jeff Gauger, executive editor of The Repository. “It’s in the broader public interest to do so.”
The newspaper doesn’t want to take sides with either the prosecution or the defense, Gauger said.
Mammone, 35, of Canton, is charged with aggravated murder and other crimes for the June 8 deaths of his two children, James IV and Macy, and former mother-in-law, Margaret Eakin.
If convicted, he faces the possibility of a death sentence.
The Repository received the letters Monday and a jail supervisor confirmed Mammone had sent the newspaper a letter.
“He’s a defendant in a criminal action. He wrote a letter from jail; it’s important that we review it in detail to see if there’s any relevance to it that would pertain to his criminal case,” said Stark County Prosecutor John D. Ferrero.
Stark County Public Defender Tammi Johnson, one of the attorneys representing Mammone, said she read only what was in the newspaper concerning the letter and declined to comment on it.
She said she would expect the items turned over to authorities to be provided to the defense before trial.
The newspaper published one of the letters in its entirety Tuesday, in which a writer who claims to be Mammone explains his motivation for the killings.
“While I confess to being totally without just cause for needlessly murdering Margaret Eakin, I still feel as though I did the most merciful thing I could do for my children (based) upon the conditions of their environment, and the bleak outlook of the future they were to face,” the letter stated, in part.
Some criticized the decision to publish the letter, and Gauger offered an explanation.
“We published this letter because the crimes Mr. Mammone is accused of committing are a community event as much as a private family event, and I believe that community interest in these crimes was high enough to warrant publication,” Gauger said. “Before publishing, we talked at length about the potential impact on the family and made special efforts Monday evening to get word to the Eakin family about our plan so that they wouldn’t be surprised.”
The second letter offers comments on another, unrelated homicide that occurred while Mammone was in jail.
That letter wasn’t published because it didn’t involve Mammone’s case and didn’t offer any new or newsworthy information, Gauger said.