Relatives: Avoid trauma of trial in 11 deaths
CLEVELAND – Some relatives of 11 women allegedly killed by a man now on trial are pressing for a plea deal to be spared from seeing the "horrendous criminal acts" detailed in court.
"We do not want to endure a trial," says a one-page letter, signed by more than a half-dozen relatives of victims. The law firm representing them provided a copy to The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The petition signing and schedule for delivering it to the prosecutor are still in the works, their lawyers said.
"We do not want to be witnesses to a media spectacle where our loved ones' lives and the details of the horrendous criminal acts inflicted upon them are spotlighted," the petition says.
The office of Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason said it hadn't seen the petition and wouldn't comment.
The judge presiding over the trial has barred attorneys involved from making public comments outside court.
Mason told the AP on Friday he was determined to get the death penalty. A plea deal likely would mean sparing Sowell's life in return for a guilty plea, and the signers endorsed that idea.
"The death penalty for Anthony Sowell is not necessary, or even desirable, in comparison to the grief we families will continue to suffer under the realities and uncertainties of the criminal justice system," the petition says.
An attorney for the families, Jeffrey Friedman, said prosecutors should consider the feelings of family members when deciding whether to strike a last-minute deal.
"The victims' families' feelings should be taken into consideration," he said.
Friedman said a life sentence without parole would be similar to a conviction, death sentence and Sowell dying in prison awaiting the outcome of many years of appeals.
The petition says those signing would be satisfied to see Sowell stand up in court and admit guilt.
"A prolonged trial and re-enactment of Sowell's demented actions will create great distress on the families of the victims," it says.
Jury selection in the trial entered its second day.
Prosecutors say Sowell lured women from his inner-city Cleveland neighborhood into his home with the promise of alcohol or drugs, then killed them.
The women disappeared one by one, starting in October 2007. The last one vanished in September 2009.
Information from: WEWS-TV, http://www.newsnet5.com