A serial killer who kept the decomposing bodies of 11 women in his Ohio home and yard for more than two years was sentenced to the death penalty on Friday.
Judge Dick Ambrose accepted a jury’s recommendation and ruled that Anthony Sowell’s troubled childhood and mental health issues did not mitigate the seriousness of his crimes.
“The court gives no weight to the defendant’s expression of remorse,” Ambrose said in handing down the verdict.
Ambrose set an execution date of Oct. 29 next year. Sowell has the right to appeal, which could delay his execution by years.
Sowell, 51, sat with his eyes closed as two women he raped, but did not kill, and the relatives of his victims shared their pain during the sentencing hearing.
“You’re going to hell for your actions,” Donnita Carmichael said to the man who killed her mother, Tonia.
“May your pacemaker stop and you die tonight,” said Dorothy Pollard, aunt of victim Diane Turner.
“He took heart,” testified Donald Smith, whose daughter Kim was among the victims.
One of Sowell’s surviving rape victims said: “I had to forgive him so I can move on with my life,” adding: “He didn’t kill me, he killed what I was.”
The former US marine was found guilty on July 22 of 82 charges including kidnapping, rape, molesting a human corpse, robbery and attempted murder.
The same jury on Wednesday recommended he be executed for his crimes.
The gruesome case that unraveled on Oct. 29, 2009, had officials scrambling to explain why the crimes were not 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.
One bloodied woman flagged down police in December 2008, telling them of her desperate escape from the registered sex offender’s house.
However, 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 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 officers went inside when Sowell didn’t answer their knock and followed the stench to two rotting corpses lying on a bed on the third floor.
A weeks-long search of the house and yard found eight more bodies and a human skull in a bucket.