By Kim Palmer
CLEVELAND (Reuters) - A woman who said she survived an attack by alleged serial killer Anthony Sowell testified on Thursday that he wished her a "Merry Christmas" and then grabbed her by the throat and dragged her up the driveway to his house.
Gladys Wade, 42, testified that she had never met Sowell before December, 2008 when she went to visit her sister who lived in the area.
There she met Sowell. Wade said she fought Sowell, who punched her in the face and demanded she take off her clothes.
"I was gasping for air, clawing at his face, clawing at his eyes," she said.
Wade testified that she made it out of the house and eventually flagged down a police car and went to the hospital. Sowell was never charged in the attack and claimed to the police that Wade stole from him.
Sowell, 51, has been charged with the aggravated murders of 11 Cleveland women, whose bodies were discovered by police in his house and backyard in the fall of 2009. Prosecutors seek the death penalty.
A second survivor of an alleged attack by Sowell, Tanja Doss, 44, testified that she went to Sowell's house willingly after knowing him since 2005. Doss had been to the house before and slept over but said that this time Sowell punched and choked her.
"He said to knock three times on the floor if I wanted to live," said Doss.
Sowell stopped choking her and she slept with her back to him and wept. In the morning Sowell made her a bologna sandwich and got her a coat to wear home. Doss did not make a statement to the police until after the bodies of 11 women were found on the property.
Earlier this week, the prosecution called a number of the family members of the 11 women found dead in and around Sowell's house on the eastside of Cleveland. Family members testified to filing missing person reports on the victims and putting up fliers in and around the area where the bodies were found.
Sowell's former girlfriend Lori Frazier, niece of Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson, testified on Wednesday that she saw numerous injuries around his head and neck after they broke up.
"He had a gash on his head … in 2006. Whoever hit him, hit him with his ashtray," Frazier said. Frazier also testified that she saw holes in the wall of Sowell's house and blood on the floors and walls.
The most emotional testimony came from a women Sowell is charged with sexually assaulting. Vanessa Gray, 37 sobbed when she described the night she met and was raped by Sowell. "He told me had an insatiable sexual appetite," she said.
According to her testimony, Sowell smoked some crack, punched her and demanded she take her clothes off. Later she testified he told her, "I will throw you in a closet for three days and forget about you."
Court is in recess until after the July 4th holiday.
(Editing by Greg McCune)