Gruesome photos shown at trial of Anthony Sowell

CLEVELAND Fri Jul 8, 2011 6:37pm 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) - Jurors in the trial of alleged serial killer Anthony Sowell on Friday were shown almost 700 crime scene photos -- some showing bodies so decomposed their gender could not be readily determined.

Sowell, 51, is on trial for the murder of 11 women and the assault of four other women. The bodies of the women were found on and around his property after police raided his home in order to arrest him for rape and assault.

Testimony began with a description of the body of Telacia Fortson, one of the first women found in a room off of Sowell's bedroom.

Fortson's death was ruled "asphyxia by cervical compression due to ligature strangulation," according to testimony by Dr. Krista Pekarski, a forensic pathologist.

Pekarski said that such a strangulation can render a victim unconscious in 10 to 30 seconds and cause death in as little as three minutes.

Three of the six victims she examined died this way, while the others were ruled "homicidal violence -- types or type unknown."

Sowell's defense attorney, John Parker, questioned Pekarski's credentials. She admitted she had not yet finished her fellowship to become a forensic pathologist when the autopsies were performed.

Sowell remained stoic while autopsy photographs were shown, at times resting his chin in his hands.

The prosecution's case against Sowell is expected to last into next week.

(Writing and reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Greg McCune)

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