A jury recommended the death penalty for a serial killer who kept the decomposing bodies of 11 women in his Ohio home and yard for more than two years.
The jury deliberated over Anthony Sowell’s fate for seven hours before giving its verdict, which will be examined by a judge before the final sentence is delivered on Friday.
Sowell, 51, showed no emotion as he stood in an orange prison jumpsuit to receive the verdict, though the clanking of his shackles could be heard as he fidgeted slightly.
Several people in the courtroom cried as the judge read the verdict and clapped as Sowell was led away.
The former marine was found guilty of the gruesome murders by the same jury last month.
He apologized for his crimes and described his troubled childhood during a sentencing hearing Monday in which two of his relatives and a former cellmate pleaded for mercy from the jury.
“The only thing I want to say is I’m sorry,” Sowell said. “This is not typical of me… I know it’s not a lot, but that is what I can give you.”
Relatives of several victims dismissed the apology as insincere and said the death penalty is a just verdict that will help bring closure.
“I thought yesterday about how the Bible says thou shalt not kill, but I changed my opinion today,” said Yvonne Williams, 50, mother of victim Tishana Culver.
“I want to be there when they execute him. I hope that it does not take 20 years.”
Vanessa Gay, 37, said she looked at Sowell several times while testifying about how he raped her in 2008 and doesn’t think he feels any remorse for what he did.
“I want him to hurt, not physically, but if he has a soul… I want him to hurt,” Gay told AFP.
Prosecutors said Sowell was sexually motivated and acted alone when he killed the women, whose decomposed remains were found in his backyard and inside his home after his arrest.
Sowell had blamed the smell emanating from his house on a nearby sausage factory.
The gruesome case that unraveled on October 29, 2009 had officials scrambling to explain why the crimes weren’t discovered sooner.
The women killed by Sowell were exclusively poor, black and hampered by lifestyles that took them on and off the streets. They were not always reported as missing immediately.
Police have come under fire for ignoring cries for help that could have saved the lives of six of his victims.
Gay was bloodied when she flagged down police in December 2008, telling them of her desperate escape from the registered sex offender’s house.
But police found she wasn’t a “credible” witness and declined to press charges even though they found blood and signs of a struggle in Sowell’s home.
A second woman was also ignored after she told police in April 2009 that Sowell had raped her repeatedly over a three-day period at his home after telling her that she needed to be “trained like an animal.”
Then, in September 2009, a third woman went to police and told them Sowell lured her to his house, raped and strangled her with a cord, then let her go when she regained consciousness.
It wasn’t until police knocked on the door of the yellow house a month later with an arrest warrant that the bodies were discovered.
The deceased victims are: Tonia Carmichael, Leshanda Long, Amelda Hunter, Crystal Dozier, Kim Smith, Diane Turner, Telacia Fortson, Janice Webb, Nancy Cobbs, Tishana Culver and Michelle Mason.