Trial opens for accused Cleveland serial killer

CLEVELAND Mon Jun 27, 2011 7:56pm EDT

Anthony Sowell is pictured in an undated booking photo made available to Reuters November 3, 2009. REUTERS/Cayuga County Sheriff's Office/Handout

Anthony Sowell is pictured in an undated booking photo made available to Reuters November 3, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Cayuga County Sheriff's Office/Handout

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CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Prosecutors named each of the 11 women Anthony Sowell is alleged to have murdered and where their decomposing bodies were found buried in or around his house in opening statements for his trial on Monday.

Sowell, 51, has been charged with the aggravated murders of the Cleveland women, whose bodies were discovered by police in his house and backyard in fall 2009. Prosecutors seek the death penalty.

Cuyahoga County prosecutor Rick Bombik told jurors the case would be one they would never forget. Prosecutors outlined when each woman went missing, where in Sowell's house or backyard their bodies were found, and in what condition.

"It will be burned into your memories as long as you live," Bombik said.

Most of the homicides for which Sowell has been charged were caused by "ligature strangulation" and all of the victims were found nude or naked from the waist down.

Sowell's attorney, John Parker, described his client as a man with a "regular job" and who "had a relationship" in a statement that ran a little more than 11 minutes.

Parker said there were "no eye witnesses, no fingerprints and no DNA," in the case. The "forensic evidence will be greatly disappointing," he told the jury.

The defense also said there was no evidence of kidnapping or "planning" that would justify the aggravated circumstances of the murder charges and questioned the "credibility" of the witnesses who will testify against Sowell.

The trial before Judge Dick Ambrose is expected to include testimony from three alleged survivors. Prosecutors also are expected to present more than 8 hours of taped interviews between Sowell and the police.

On Monday prosecutors presented testimony from the first officer who arrived on the scene at Sowell's house and the owner of a sausage shop next to his house.

Earlier in the day jurors were taken to the home where Sowell lived and where the bodies of the 11 women were found.

(Editing by David Bailey and Jerry Norton)

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