No Sowell fingerprints found on materials that wrapped victims

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 13, 2011 8:38 PM
No Sowell fingerprints found on materials that wrapped victims

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Forensic experts testified on Wednesday that no fingerprints were recovered from materials that wrapped the bodies of women found at accused serial killer Anthony Sowell's house though his DNA was found on many items.

Another forensic expert cataloged a long list of evidence recovered from Sowell's house in trial testimony and defense attorneys attempted to question the choices of what objects were gathered and the method used to collect the evidence.

Sowell, 51, is charged with killing 11 women and assaulting four others. He faces a possible death sentence if found guilty of all 11 counts of aggravated murder.

Dr. Nassar Butt, a DNA forensic analyst, testified to finding Sowell's DNA on a number of items recovered at the house, including a bra, two crack pipes and a sex toy.

Sowell's DNA was also found mixed with that of a woman he is accused of raping in his bedroom, and with cigarette butts, the analyst said.

Curtiss Jones, a forensic scientist with the coroner's office, described a lengthy list of evidence collected from Sowell's house and tested.

Defense attorney John Parker questioned the handling of the crime scene, asking Jones why some evidence wasn't collected.

Parker continued the line of questioning with Eric Carpenter, a physical scientist with the FBI's latent print operations unit at Quantico.

Carpenter testified he was not able to find fingerprints on the various garbage bags and tape used to wrap the victim's bodies. Parker asked Carpenter if any of the bindings found around the neck or wrists of the women had been given to him for testing. He responded no.

On Tuesday, Jones had testified to removing coaxial cables, belts, shoestrings, cell phone charge cords and socks from the necks of women recovered from Sowell's property.

Sowell, who has often sat nearly motionless during the trial, was uncharacteristically involved in his defense on Wednesday. He examined the defense's thick binder of crime scene photos and gestured with his hands while talking with defense attorney Rufus Sims during Jones' testimony.

For hours of cross, Parker consulted a similar binder in questioning Jones about the hundreds of pieces of evidence.

Cleveland police and SWAT found two bodies in a room next to Sowell's bedroom when they executed a search warrant for rape. Eventually, nine other bodies were discovered including a skull in a bucket, one in a plastic bag, two more covered with dirt in the house and five buried in the backyard.

Sowell has pleaded not guilty to all charges after withdrawing an insanity plea. The prosecution is expected to continue presenting its case throughout the week.

Also on Wednesday, Judge Dick Ambrose ruled that some crime scene photographs taken earlier in July should be excluded from the trial as prejudicial and an "unfair surprise."

(Editing by David Bailey and Jerry Norton)