Victims’ families react to Anthony Sowell death sentence appeal

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CLEVELAND - Loved ones say it is opening up old and painful wounds.  The state’s highest court heard arguments Tuesday morning on convicted serial killer Anthony Sowell’s appeal.  He is asking for a new trial and to have his death sentence overturned.

"I pray our Supreme Court justice system does not entertain the fact that this man even warrants a new trial," said Donnita Carmichael, whose mother Tonia Carmichael was one of Sowell’s victims.

Relatives of three of the eleven women Anthony Sowell was found guilty of killing gather to support each other on the day the convicted serial killer's lawyers took his appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court.

"We're asking this court to affirm the convictions and death sentence of Anthony Sowell," said Christopher Schroeder, a lawyer representing the State of Ohio.

In 2011, Sowell was convicted of killing eleven women and putting their bodies in and around his home on Cleveland's Imperial Avenue.  They were discovered in 2009.  In court, Sowell's attorneys argued that he deserves a new trial and his death sentence overturned.

They say, in part, because Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Dick Ambrose closed a hearing about whether his videotaped police interrogation should have been brought up in trial.

"It's never had a case where there were serial murders over two and a half years, deliberate, thoughtful, planned and action, trying to cover those murders up and lure women into his house so he could do it again and again and again, so I think that's why the death penalty is appropriate in this case," Schroeder said.

During jury selection, relatives of eight of the eleven victims sent a petition to prosecutors, asking them to allow Sowell to plea and accept a life sentence.

"We don't even really have to be here today...he'd be sitting in prison right now with a life sentence eleven times over," said Carmichael.

Defense attorneys argued that if jurors knew that, it could have changed the outcome of the trial.

"Remember it only takes one, a single juror as this court has said to prevent the sentence of death, and I think under those circumstances it is a real possibility, if not a likelihood,” attorney Jeffrey Gamso, who represents Sowell, told the justices.

"He just trying to think of anything he can to squeeze out of paying for what he did," said Barbara Carmichael, mother of victim Tonia Carmichael.

"Losing your mother is like, taking a lot from you," said Audrey Williams, daughter of victim Nancy Cobb.

"I understand he has to have an appeal 'cause that's the law, but the girls can't get another trial," said Debra Williams, who adopted the son of victim Telacia Fortson.

The families say they continue to receive support from the Mount Pleasant Ministerial Alliance.

No word on when the Ohio Supreme Court will make a ruling.

More on this story, here.