Judge won't postpone trial in 11 Cleveland deaths

AP News
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Posted: Jun 01, 2011 6:02 PM
Judge won't postpone trial in 11 Cleveland deaths

The trial of a Cleveland man charged with killing 11 women and hiding their remains on his property is to proceed next week, after a judge Wednesday denied a defense request for more time to prepare.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Dick Ambrose rejected the request from lawyers for Anthony Sowell, 51, who appeared in court with wrist and ankle manacles.

Sowell sat quietly through the 2 1/2-hour hearing, occasionally leaning to hear a defense attorney's whispered side comments.

Authorities say Sowell lured vulnerable women, often homeless or living alone and battling drug or alcohol addictions, to his home and attacked them. He is accused of killing the women and hiding their bodies.

The bodies were found after police went to arrest Sowell in October 2009 on a sexual assault allegation. The remains of 10 women and a skull were found either in his home or buried in the yard.

The judge also rejected defense motions to summon a new pool of 1,000 prospective jurors and review decisions by the second of three judges assigned to the case.

John Parker, a defense attorney, objected to the judge excusing 23 prospective jurors and postponing jury service for 106 others. Parker said the defense should have been involved, but the judge said he had the authority to postpone or excuse prospective jurors with hardship concerns.

The judge also rejected a request to review decisions made early in the case by a judge later removed to avoid an appearance of bias. Ambrose said her rulings looked typical and said her removal was unrelated to Sowell's case.

The judge also rejected a defense request to seat separate juries for the trial and a sentencing phase. Instead, the same jury that returns a verdict will decide, if Sowell is convicted, whether to recommend the death sentence.