Sowell jury begins considering death penalty

2:25 PM, Aug 1, 2011   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- The same jury which convicted Anthony Sowell of 11 murders has begun to hear arguments about whether the serial killer should be sentenced to death or to life in prison with no possibility of parole.

"Only two potential sentences remain," Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Dick Ambrose told the jury. "You will weigh the aggravating circumstances against the mitigating factors."

Sowell, 51, was convicted July 22 on more than 80 counts of aggravated murder, kidnapping, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence. The remains of 11 women were found in and around his home on Imperial Avenue on Cleveland's east side in the fall of 2009.  

"I'm confident that if you follow your votes as jurors in this case," Assistant Prosecutor Rick Bombik said in his opening statement to the jury, "you'll have no difficulty in arriving at the conclusion that the aggravating circumstances outweigh the sum total of all the mitigating factors."

Sowell's lead defense attorney John Parker said his client has many issues which mitigate against imposing the death penalty on him, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and psychosis.

"This is a very tough decision," Parker said. "We believe at the end of the day you will find the appropriate sentence in this case."

Prosecutors called no witness to testify that Sowell should be sentenced to death. It rested its case by simply presenting to the jury all of the evidence they used to convict Sowell, including photos of the crime scene and autopsy photos.

Sowell's defense team began testimony by calling to the witness stand Dr. Dale G. Watson, a clinical and forensic neuro-psychologist from California. Watson, who refused to be photographed or videotaped during his testimony, said he spent 19 hours examining Sowell.

Sowell was also interviewed by Watson, who performed 45 to 50 tests while Sowell was locked up in the Cuyahoga County Jail awaiting trial. His work on behalf of Sowell's defense team cost taxpayers about $38,000.

Watson testified that Sowell has "indications of brain dysfunction," especially in the parietal area of the brain. He said when Sowell was tested in assembling a 10 piece puzzle blindfolded, he became slower, rather than faster when asked to do it with both hands, after first being tested with each hand separately.

The expert said the results were unusual, and an indication of brain dysfunction in Sowell. 


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