CLEVELAND, Ohio — An appeals court on Thursday rejected convicted serial killer Anthony Sowell’s latest attempt to overturn his 2011 conviction and death sentence.
A three-judge panel at the 8th District Court of Appeals unanimously held that Sowell failed to present enough evidence that he did not receive a fair trial and that his trial attorneys ineffectively represented him during the penalty phase of his trial.
Eighth District judges Eileen T. Gallagher, Patricia Ann Blackmon and Larry A. Jones upheld Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Dick Ambrose’s 2018 dismissal of Sowell’s petition for post-conviction relief without holding a hearing. The judges also rejected arguments from the county public defender’s office on Sowell’s behalf that the death penalty is unconstitutional, and that he was barred from hiring enough expert witnesses and investigators to defend himself from a death sentence properly.
The case will likely head to the Ohio Supreme Court.
The ruling is the latest procedural step as Sowell moves closer to being executed for killing 11 women and hiding their bodies in his home on Cleveland’s East Side.
Police investigating a rape complaint against Sowell discovered the bodies in 2009 during a search of his Imperial Avenue home. A jury convicted him of raping and killing the 11 women, raping two others and attempting to rape another. He is currently on death row at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution. The state has not set his execution date.
The case became one of Cleveland’s most notorious crime stories. The city has paid more than $1.3 million to victims and their families to settle lawsuits over how detectives handled accusations against Sowell before his arrest.
A woman came forward to police late last year to accuse Sowell of raping her in 2008. The case was closed last month without charges, according to court records.