Jury recommends death penalty for Anthony Sowell

4:43 PM, Aug 10, 2011   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- The jury has recommended a judge sentence Anthony Sowell to death for the murders of 11 women.

The women's bodies were found buried in and around Sowell's Imperial Avenue home in late 2009.  The women had started disappearing in 2007.

The verdict was read in court just before 2:45 p.m. Wednesday. Judge Dick Ambrose said he will sentence Sowell at 9 a.m. Friday.

Sowell stood motionless while the jury's recommendations were read.  Family members of the victims hugged and cried in the back of the courtroom. 

For the first time since the trial started two months ago, Sowell appeared in a prison jumpsuit in court.

Sowell was convicted on 82 counts in the murders of the 11 women on July 22.

The same jury reconvened on Aug. 1 to hear testimony from witnesses aimed at humanizing Sowell in an effort to convince jurors to spare his life.

Defense lawyer John Parker argued to the jury that Sowell's life should be spared because of his difficult childhood.  Prosecutors countered that Sowell was simply, "evil" and deserved the death sentence.

Sowell took the stand on Aug. 8 and made a 32-minute unsworn statement in which he apologized to the victims' families.

In a news conference afterwards, every juror said the statement had no emotional impact on them and felt that it was simply a rehearsed moment.

The jury could have recommended either life in prison without parole or the death penalty relating to each of the 11 victims.

Judge Ambrose will determine Sowell's sentence based on the jury's recommendation.  He is permitted to reduce a death penalty recommendation to a life without parole sentence.

Jurors spent a total of 7 hours over two days deciding on what sentence they would recommend. The jury had endured weeks of grueling and graphic testimony.

The victims' families applauded the jury at the conclusion of the sentencing hearing.  


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