Jury sees graphic photos at alleged serial killer trial

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 07, 2011 6:18 PM
Jury sees graphic photos at alleged serial killer trial

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - The jury in the trial of alleged serial killer Anthony Sowell saw a series of graphic crime scene photos on Thursday, including one showing a woman's skull in a red bucket.

During testimony by Cleveland police detective Melvin Smith, jurors were also shown photos of two bodies wrapped in plastic and surrounded by flies, along with photographs of victims' underwear, jewelry and bottles of prescription medication found in Sowell's house.

The bodies belonged to Telacia Fortson and Diane Turner. The skull belonged to Leshanda Long.

Sowell, 51, is charged with killing 11 women, whose bodies were found in and around his Cleveland house. He also is accused of assaulting four women. Sowell's house was searched after one of the allegedly assaulted women escaped and told police.

During his testimony, Smith also identified photographs picturing an ATM receipt and Social Security card with Fortson's name.

Det. Charles Locke testified that he stopped a man he was told was Sowell wearing a hoodie and carrying a backpack containing a box-cutter, an empty wallet and a piece of carpet. "He said he was Anthony Williams. We showed him pictures we had and he continued to say he wasn't Anthony Sowell," said Locke.

Sgt. Ronald Ross, the detective in charge of the search for Sowell, testified that he decided to take the man who had identified himself as Anthony Williams to a command center to check his fingerprints.

When he was told he would have his fingerprints checked Ross said Sowell told him, "'I'm the guy you are looking for' and he started sweating profusely and dropped to his knees."

Ross also testified that after Sowell was read his rights he engaged in a "normal conversation" with the officers. At one point one of the officers told Sowell they had been to his backyard and found a body. Sowell acknowledged "Oh, those" using the plural when only one body had been found at that time.

Sowell's defense attorney, John Parker, repeatedly asked Det. Smith on cross-examination why some items were not collected and logged into evidence.

When asked if he dusted for fingerprints on a mound of empty beer cans, Smith answered no. Parker responded with, "At the time you had 11 unidentified bodies and you didn't have the time to collect this (fingerprints). You didn't know how many people were involved in these homicides?"

Smith responded, "We knew."

"How many?" Parker responded

"One," Smith said.

Sowell's sister Tressa Garrison testified Thursday that news of her brother's arrest caused her to move her family from the area.

"Now you know how we feel," shouted out the brother of Amelda Hunter, one of the woman found buried in Sowell's backyard. Judge Dick Ambrose removed the man from the courtroom.

Testimony from other members of the police department and the coroner's office is expected to continue Friday.

(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Greg McCune)