CLEVELAND - Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason
announced that Tabitha Messina was sentenced to 60 years to life in
On September 15, 2008, Messina pled guilty to two
(2) counts of aggravated murder and one (1) count of robbery. Messina,
19, of South Euclid, was indicted along with co-defendant Carlos
Christopher for the murder of her father, Richard Messina, and his
girlfriend, Sandra Cover, in the early morning hours of July 29, 2007.
Tabitha Messina and Carlos Christopher broke into
Richard Messina's house, located at 1804 Donwell in South Euclid, and
attacked the two with an axe and a crowbar while they slept in Richard
Messina's bedroom. After the homicide, they ransacked the house. They
took Richard Messina's two vehicles, a Corvette and GMC Jimmy, and
fled to North Carolina. They were found sleeping in the Jimmy, which
was parked in a motel parking lot in Avery County, North Carolina, two
days after the homicide.
Carlos Christopher was found guilty of Aggravated
Murder for both Richard Messina and Sandra Cover on May 27, 2008, and
sentenced to two life sentences to run concurrent.
Tabitha Messina will be 80 years old before she’s
eligible for parole.
Messina received 60 years to life in prison Friday
for masterminding the murder of her father, Richard Messina, 50, and
his girlfriend, 43-year-old Sandra Cover.
Tabitha Messina, 20, and her friend Carlos
Christopher broke into the elder Messina’s house in South Euclid while
he and Cover slept July 29, 2007. Prosecutors said Messina and
Christopher attacked the couple with an ax and a crowbar. Then, they
stole a Corvette and GMC Jimmy from them.
Messina insisted she did not plan or want to kill
her father or the woman who served as her surrogate stepmother for 10
“Never once would I think of taking the life of the
man who raised me,” she said at her sentencing.
However, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Timothy
E. McMonagle said the evidence showed otherwise.
“She makes things up as she goes along and she
believes what she says,” McMonagle said.
Even when Tabitha Messina was young, she used to
lie after getting in fights, clinical psychologist Dr. Sandra
Messina used to attack other children, blame
someone else and then get attention by trying to fix the problem,
McPherson said in a study that was read by McMonagle.
Several members from Messina and Cover’s family
filled McMonagle’s courtroom. Those who spoke made it very clear that
they thought life in prison was an insufficient punishment.
Linda Moore, Cover’s sister, told Messina she
deserved to die for the murder and mutilation of the couple.
Cover’s mother, Joann Bartell, said life in prison
was “more mercy than she showed Sandy and her father.”
Bartell showed the judge a picture of Sandy Cover
and said, “There are not adequate words in the English language to
describe the pain, anguish and despair I feel.”
Betty Montanez, Richard Messina’s sister and
Tabitha’s aunt, echoed the sentiment.
“When you forgot to respect him, and you forgot he
was your father, we forgot you were our niece,” she said.
“At best, you deserve to die in prison, maybe of
The one person in her family who would have
forgiven her, Montanez said, was her father.
Tabitha and Richard Messina had an often
“I always used to push my dad to a certain limit to
see how much he would take from me,” Tabitha Messina said.
Between January 2005 and the murder, South Euclid
police were called to Messina’s home 68 times for reasons including
loud music, barking dogs, trespassing and juvenile disturbances.
Tabitha Messina has alleged that her father abused
her, but there is no evidence to corroborate it, Assistant Cuyahoga
County Prosecutor Patrick J. Thomas said.
Christopher has been convicted of murder and given
two life sentences without possibility of parole.
Messina pleads guilty to South Euclid murders
By Ed Wittenberg - Cleveland.com
September 18, 2008
CLEVELAND-- Tabitha Messina could face life in
prison with no chance of parole after she pleaded guilty Monday to the
murders of her father, Richard Messina, and his girlfriend, Sandra
Messina, 19, of South Euclid, will be sentenced at
9:30 a.m. Oct. 23 in Judge Timothy McMonagle's courtroom at Cuyahoga
County Common Pleas Court.
Just prior to her trial Monday, Messina pleaded
guilty to two counts of aggravated murder and one count of aggravated
Richard Messina, 50, and Cover, 43, were beaten to
death in July 2007 at their home on Donwell Drive in South Euclid.
In May, a three-judge panel convicted Carlos
Christopher, 20, the co-defendant in the murders, and sentenced him to
life in prison with no chance of parole.
According to the prosecutor's office, Messina and
Christopher broke into the home and attacked Richard Messina and Cover
with an axe and a crowbar while they slept.
The co-defendants then ransacked the house, stole
Richard Messina's two vehicles and fled to North Carolina, where they
were caught by police the next day.
Carlos Christopher Sentenced to LWOP in 2007
Ohio Double Murder
South Euclid ax murderer spared death penalty----He gets life without
parole for killing 2
May 29, 2008
Carlos Christopher found mercy in a Cuyahoga County
courtroom Wednesday, but not forgiveness.
A 3-judge panel spared him from a death sentence
for robbing and killing a South Euclid couple in their home. But the
20-year-old Christopher must spend the rest of his life in prison,
with no hope for parole.
The decision brought a measure of relief to some of
the victims' family members. Others left bitter.
Christopher used an ax to murder Richard Messina
Sr. and Sandra Cover on July 29 while they slept.
"God may forgive him, but my family will not,"
Cover's sister Brenda Gregory told the judges before they sent
Christopher to prison. "He will never see the light of freedom again,
and I thank you for that."
Richard Messina Jr. told the judges he was
disappointed with the decision.
"My dad wasn't given mercy," he said, breathing
heavily. "While his adopted mother will get to visit him in jail, we
get to visit a grave."
Common Pleas Judges Timothy McMonagle, Kenneth
Callahan and Lillian Greene convicted Christopher last week and
returned Tuesday to decide his punishment.
The defendant took the witness stand early
Wednesday. He looked away from the families' menacing stares as he
offered an apology but not an explanation for his crimes.
"I want to say I'm sorry for causing so much
trouble and pain," he said.
Christopher and his 19-year-old girlfriend, Tabitha
Messina, were arrested days after the slayings. Tabitha Messina, the
slain man's daughter, also faces capital murder charges and is to go
on trial later this year.
During closing statements, defense attorney John
Pyle argued that Christopher should get life in prison with the
possibility of parole. He said Christopher was provoked the night of
"What we had here in this case is a windstorm, and
those winds joined that tragic night and this was fueled by one word,"
Pyle said, referring to a racial slur he said Richard Messina Sr.
uttered to Christopher hours before the homicides. "We all know this
word. Not only is it a word that ridicules persons of color, it tells
them they're less than human. Words hurt. And this was one of them."
Pyle presented witnesses who described
Christopher's tumultuous childhood and how his experiences led to
these crimes. Christopher was born in a jail in Brazil where his birth
mother was incarcerated for drug abuse and stealing. His father died
of AIDS in jail when Christopher was a young boy. Christopher also had
language-based learning disabilities, dyslexia and attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder. He used the drugs Ritalin and Adderall.
He came to the United States at age 8 to live with
a foster mother, Lucy Anne Christopher.
Joann Bartell, the slain woman's mother, called the
defense's argument rubbish.
"My seven kids had rough childhoods, too, but none
of them turned into mass murderers," she said.
"He had more help than most kids get and he threw
it right back in our face."
Assistant County Prosecutor Steve Dever called the
killings a bloodbath.
He said he hopes the state prison system puts
Christopher in the "deepest, darkest dungeon because he's a dangerous
Police Charge Victim's Daughter With Double
South Euclid, OH - Police have arrested the
daughter of one of the murder victims in Sunday's double homicide.
Tabitha Messina, 18-years-old, and 19-year-old
Carlos Christopher are now behind bars for two counts of aggraveated
Sunday evening two people were violently murdered
over the weekend on Donwell Drive around 6:00p.m.
South Euclid Police Department responded to 1804
Donwell Drive regarding a welfare check. Upon officers' arrival, they
noted that the screen to an enclosed patio was torn and a window was
broken out of an entrance door to the house.
Once inside the home, officers discovered the
bodies of the homeowner 50-year-old Richard Messina, and his
girlfriend 43-year-old Sandra Cover.
The South Euclid Police Department is investigating
this as a double homicide.
Sunday evening, the South Euclid Police Department
recovered a vehicle that had been taken from the home along with a
weapon which is believed to have been used in the crime.
Police questioned three people Monday and then
issued arrest warrants for the victim's daughter and her male firend.
The South Euclid Police Department has responded to
1804 Donwell Drive, 68 times since January 1st, 2005 for various
reasons and the address is on the department's nuisance abatement
This is the first homicide in the City of South
Euclid since October of 2003 when the South Euclid Police Department
was called to the scene of a domestic homicide, which was successfully
Ohio Pair Wanted for Double Homicide
Arrested in Avery County
By Ron Fitzwater - HighCountryPress.com
August 2, 2007
Tabitha Messina and Carlos Christopher were
apprehended Monday by members of the Avery County Sheriff’s Department
and Newland Police Chief Jason Brown following a call to emergency
services reporting an unresponsive person in a car in the parking lot
of the Parkview Motel in Linville Falls.
First responders found the pair asleep but
otherwise in apparent good health. A check of the vehicle’s
registration by county communications showed that the vehicle and its
occupants were wanted in connection with a double homicide in South
South Euclid law enforcement officials confirmed
via the Avery County Sheriff’s Office that Messina’s father Richard
age 50 and his girlfriend Sandra Clover age 43 had been found beaten
to death in the upstairs bedroom of their South Euclid home.
Responding with Brown, Deputy Chris Workman, Chief
Deputy Dallas Pate and Lieutenant Detective Danny Phillips removed the
suspects from the vehicle along with key pieces of evidence sought by
Ohio authorities. Phillips said, “They were for the most part
cooperative. At first they did not want to open the doors, but
eventually they opened the door and came out.”
Messina and Christopher waived extradition Tuesday
morning in Judge Greg Horn’s court and according to Phillips, South
Euclid police are making arrangements to take custody from Avery
County within the next few days.
In a press release dated July 30, Avery County
Sheriff Kevin Fry said, “I am very proud of my officers and with the
assistance of Newland Police. We have taken two more really bad people
off the streets of Avery County. This is the second and third murder
suspect arrested in about the past month by our office and though I am
glad we are getting them off the streets, I just wish they would quit
Both suspects remain in the Avery County jail