Judge drops remaining cases against Ohio killer

AP News
Posted: Sep 12, 2011 12:32 PM
Judge drops remaining cases against Ohio killer

A serial killer already sentenced to death for killing 11 women and dumping their remains around his house and property laughed and said the state had no case as a judge dismissed remaining rape and kidnapping charges against him on Monday.

The cases were dismissed at the prosecutor's request to save additional trial costs and spare two women who testified at Anthony Sowell's murder trial from having to testify again. Jurors said the grueling testimony of survivors was important in convicting Sowell, 52.

The women, Tanja Doss and Vanessa Gay, endorsed dismissing the charges, according to assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Mahmoud Awadallah. The women did not appear in court.

The two "have already gone through a lot of stress telling their story," Awadallah said after the court session.

Doss had testified she was smoking crack and drinking beer at his home in April 2009 when Sowell choked her and said, "You could be another crackhead dead" in the street and nobody would care.

Gay testified that she was attacked by Sowell in 2008 and saw a headless body in his house. She met with jurors after the murder trial, thanking them after they said her testimony and that of other survivors touched them.

The Associated Press does not name people who report being sexually assaulted unless they agree to be identified or come forward publicly, as Gay has. The Doss case involved kidnapping, attempted murder and felonious assault charges and the Gay case involved kidnapping, felonious assault and eight rape counts.

Sowell slapped a manila envelope on the defense table and laughed when the judge mentioned the ordeal the women would face if they had to testify again. As he left court, his ankles and wrists shackled, he said in unprintable language that there was no case against him.

The charges could be refiled if Sowell's murder convictions are overturned on appeal, according to assistant Prosecutor Richard Bombik. He said the prosecution team was confident the convictions would be upheld on appeal.

Judge Dick Ambrose, who dismissed the charges, rejected a defense request two weeks ago for a new murder trial, prompting Sowell to complain as he left court that the session had interrupted his nap in jail.

The murdered women began disappearing in 2007, and prosecutors say Sowell lured them to his home with the promise of alcohol or drugs.

Police discovered 10 bodies and a skull 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 yard.