Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"Imperial Avenue Strangler" indicted on 11 aggravated murder charges, pleads not guilty

(Original Post 12-2-09)
The convicted rapist Anthony Sowell has been formally charged by a Cuyahoga County grand jury yesterday, December 1, with the strangulation murders of 11 Cleveland women whose decomposing bodies were found in his east Cleveland home. Sowell was formally indicted on 85 counts, including 11 counts of aggravated murder and numerous rape and kidnapping charges.

On Halloween, 2009, police investigating a rape came across numerous decomposing bodies after investigating a rape complaint. 11 bodies were found in various stages of decomposition after a police search. Police determined that most of the women died of strangulation because their bodies still had binds and ligatures on them.

Ten of the "Imperial 11" were identified. They are Tonia Carmichael, 52; Nancy Cobbs, 45; Tishana Culver, 31; Crystal Dozier, 38; Telacia Fortson, 31; Amelda Hunter, 47; Michelle Mason, 45; Kim Yvette Smith,44; Janice Webb, 49; and Leshanda Long, 25.

In addition to charges of aggravated murder with mass murder specifications and abuse of a corpse related to each of the 11 dead women, Tuesday's indictment includes multiple counts of attempted murder, felonious assault, rape, attempted rape, kidnapping, aggravated robbery and tampering with evidence.

Some of the charges were in connection with reported attacks on women at Sowell's house on Sept. 22 and Oct. 20.

Sowell, who is being held on $6 million bond, is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday at 8:30 a.m., and to appear Wednesday before Common Pleas Judge John Sutula on a previous charge related to the September attack that drew investigators to his home.

Hidden among the slew of charges include the attempted rape of 41-year-old Gladys Wade, whose case, if properly charged by Cleveland prosecutors, almost certinly would have prevented Sowell from killing his last five victims. December 8, 2008 was the day Wade flagged down police officers, bleeding, saying that Sowell tried to rape and rob her. Only the robbery charge was presented to city prosecutors, and those charges were dropped after further investigation.

More coverage of this case can be found here.

(Update 12-4-09) Yesterday, Sowell plead not guilty by reason of insanity in the Imperial Avenue stranglings and three rapes. Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Eileen Gallagher ordered Sowell held without bond, while prosecutors asked for a $14,000,000 bond. Sowell, represented by a public defender, faces ther death penalty, and his trial lawyers will be assigned Wednesday, December 9 by Judge Timothy McGinty, who will preside over the case.

Assistant County Prosecutor Rick Bombik said that Sowell was a psychopath, not insane. Quite frankly, he's a psychopath, a person void of any human empathy. That does not mean he is mentally ill. A psychopath is not insane, he's just a lousy, evil person with a personality disorder."

Case Western Reserve university professor Lewis Katz, who has taught law for four decades, said that "A sociopath, or psychopath, lives his life unaffected by the moral code and other concepts that guide the rest of us. It does not mean they are insane."

On Wednesday, FBI agents poured over Sowell's house looking for more bodies, but did not find any. This article shows the need to see the victim's as someone's daughters, sisters, and mothers.

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