A man who killed 11 women and dumped their bodies around his property cried as his prison buddy, himself a convicted rapist, appealed to a jury Wednesday to spare his friend's life.
"He deserves not to die," Roosevelt Lloyd, 54, told the jury that must decide whether to recommend the death penalty or life in prison for Anthony Sowell, 51.
Sowell, who has remained mostly impassive during his trial and subsequent sentencing phase, used his sleeve to wipe away tears as Lloyd described him as a loving friend who merited his loyalty.
"Killing him ain't going to bring nobody back," said Lloyd, who was serving 20 years in prison for rape when he met Sowell, who served 15 years for attempted rape.
"I don't approve of what he did," Lloyd said. "I'm sad for the families."
Lloyd testified that he and Sowell became the "very, very best of friends" in prison. He described daily basketball games, with Sowell frequently falling and hitting his head on the concrete floor.
The defense has suggested that Sowell's health began deteriorating in 2007, about the time his victims began disappearing, because of a head injury or untreated heart attack.
Under cross-examination, Lloyd said he was expecting good things from Sowell when he left prison in 2005.
Earlier Wednesday, Nolan Coleman, a 52-year-old mail carrier and Marine Corps veteran, testified for the defense to highlight Sowell's military service. Sowell served in the Marines from 1978-85 and received two good-conduct medals.
Under cross-examination, assistant Prosecutor Pinkey Carr pressed Coleman on Marine training and its purpose, including killing by hand, using pressure points, choking and administering a choke hold.
Coleman said he was familiar with a choke hold from his Marine training.
"What's the purpose of a choke hold?" Carr asked.
"To kill someone," the witness responded.
"You're actually taught to choke somebody to kill them?" Carr asked.
"Yes," Coleman said.
A woman who was raped by Sowell, survived and testified against him said he got her in a choke hold and took her to a bedroom and attacked her.
Sowell got a promotion during boot camp, and Coleman testified that there was competition for such an achievement. Under cross-examination, Coleman agreed that it would show a recruit was smart, buttressing the prosecution argument that Sowell was crafty in the way he killed.
The defense also called to the stand a sixth-grade teacher who testified about Sowell's good attendance and a jail guard who said Sowell has been well-behaved.
Investigators said Sowell lured victims to his home with the promise of alcohol or drugs. Police discovered the first two bodies and a freshly dug grave in late 2009 after officers went to investigate a woman's report that she had been raped there.
Many of the women found in Sowell's home had been missing for weeks or months, and some had criminal records. They were disposed of in garbage bags and plastic sheets, then dumped in various parts of the house and backyard.