Serial killer Sowell weeps during sentencing phase of trial
CLEVELAND (Reuters) - In a rare display of emotion, convicted serial killer Anthony Sowell shed tears Monday as he listened to expert testimony about his depression.
The testimony came during the sentencing phase of Sowell's trial. The same jury who convicted Sowell, 51, of the murder of 11 women will decide whether he spends his life in prison or receives the death penalty.
The decomposing bodies of his victims were found in his house and buried in the backyard after police came to his house to arrest him for rape and assault.
Sowell shed tears and held his face in his hands as Dr. Dale Watson, a neuro-psychologist, testified to the answers Sowell gave on a test to evaluate depression.
Watson recounted that Sowell had answered "yes" to questions like, "I feel sad most of the time. I see a lot of failures in my life. I expect to be punished and I don't like myself."
Defense attorneys plan to call more than 20 witnesses during the sentencing phase of Sowell's trial, which is expected to last four to seven days. The prosecution rested after opening statements but plans on calling at least two rebuttal witnesses.
The defense called no witnesses during the first phase of the trial, when the jury convicted him of murder.
Defense attorney John Parker said in his opening statement that Sowell was a hard worker and wanted to be a positive part of society but he had a difficult childhood and changed after his heart attack in 2007.
"My client was a good Marine," says Parker and told jurors, "This will not be an easy decision for you."
Jurors had last week off from the trial but Sowell and attorneys were in court Wednesday for a bench trial that found him guilty of being a "violent sexual predator." As a result of that ruling, the jury can only consider life in prison without parole or a death sentence for Sowell.
Watson, the defense's expert witness, testified that he met with Sowell three times for a total of 19 hours at which time he determined Sowell's IQ was 86 (the average IQ is 100).
Watson also said that Sowell told him he had lost four days to a blackout and heard a voice in his head named "Artie".
"He processed information more slowly than most people," explained Watson who testified that he concluded Sowell had "a moderate degree of dysfunction and impairment" to his brain.
Parker told jurors that Sowell had a heart attack shoveling snow in 2007, but didn't go to the hospital for several weeks. Eventually Sowell went to a hospital and had surgery and was then unable to work at his factory job.
"The women started disappearing after this," said, Parker, who added that Sowell suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and a form of psychosis.
Two former teachers of Sowell who recognized his name from media reports testified in the afternoon. Both teachers said that he was a C-student who enjoyed learning and described him as "enthusiastic."
"I remember him being happy," said Cathy Whelan. "He was just a nice little boy."
Before Sowell came to live at the Cleveland house in 2005 where the murders took place, he had spent 15 years in prison for raping a pregnant woman.
(Writing and reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Greg McCune)
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