CLEVELAND – The father of a woman whose head was found at the home of a man charged in 11 slayings endorsed a drive Thursday asking for a plea deal to spare victims' relatives from a traumatic trial.
Jim Allen, 52, gripped the petition delivered to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason and made a blunt appeal to prevent his daughter's tragedy from going on public display at the trial of Anthony Sowell, 51. Sowell has pleaded not guilty.
"We're trying to plead with Mr. Mason to give us some kind of closure so we won't have to deal with this over and over again," Allen said.
The one-page petition, with 17 signatures representing the families of eight of Sowell's alleged victims, calls for offering Sowell life in prison without parole in return for a guilty plea. The deal would spare Sowell from a possible death sentence.
The prosecutor's office, which was aware that the petition was being circulated, said a gag order issued by Sowell's trial judge barred comment on the issue. Last week, Mason reiterated to The Associated Press his determination to get the death penalty.
Ten bodies were dumped in and around Sowell's home. The head of Allen's daughter, 25-year-old Leshanda Long, was dumped in a bucket; Allen said the case was especially troubling for him because her body wasn't found.
"I haven't had any closure," he said. "I couldn't put a body to rest."
Allen said the families' pain caused by the attention given to the high-profile case was a wound that won't heal.
And if a conviction leads to years of appeals, Allen said, "That's pulling the scabs off of every one of those 11 victims' families again and again and again."
Jury selection in the Sowell trial began Monday.
Prosecutors say Sowell lured women to his home with the promise of alcohol or drugs and killed them. The women disappeared between October 2007 and September 2009.