Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Attorneys for Ohio Serial Killer Say ‘Media Circus’ Prevented Fair Trial

Anthony Sowell and the home, now demolished, where the murders took place.

Neighbors attributed the hideous smell that permeated Anthony Sowell’s Cleveland street to the nearby sausage factory. But in 2009, it became clear where the odor was coming from: police pulled the bodies of 11 women from Sowell’s home. The discovery, of course, shocked Cleveland and the rest of the nation and was the center of media chatter for months. In August 2011, Sowell was sentenced to death, after being convicted by a jury on all counts, including the murders of 11 women.

Now Sowell’s attorneys are saying that the amount of media attention paid to his case prevented him from having a fair trial. In a response filed with the Ohio Supreme Court, attorneys wrote, ”If anything, calling this case ‘a media circus’ is an understatement. A circus, after all, will eventually leave town. This one remains.”

Local and national news publications ran hundreds of stories about Sowell before his trial, which, argue his attorneys, influenced the jurors who decided his fate.

If the court agrees with the defense team’s argument, Sowell’s death sentence would be changed to life in prison.

Read the Full Filing (PDF)

Anthony Sowell: The Cleveland Strangler

VIDEO: The Intense Testimony of Vanessa Gay, Anthony Sowell Survivor

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