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Cleveland serial killer sentenced to death

A serial killer was sentenced to death Friday for murdering 11 women and scattering their remains around his property.

His eyes closed at times, Anthony Sowell, 51, sat impassively as Judge Dick Ambrose -- accepting the recommendation of jurors who convicted Sowell of aggravated murder -- announced 11 death sentences.

Jurors, some wiping tears, returned to court to watch. The judge had the option of reducing the sentence to life in prison without chance of parole.

The judge alluded to Sowell's stone-faced demeanor, saying he doubted Sowell would have reacted even if the photos of victims had been brought into court daily, as some victims' relatives wanted.

Sowell never looked at relatives as they spoke during the sentencing hearing. He ignored the judge when asked if he wanted to speak and again when asked to sign a legal document.

By law, Sowell's conviction and death sentence automatically will be appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court. That process could take 10 years or more, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason said.

Sowell was arrested on Halloween 2009, two days after police went to his house on a sexual-assault complaint and began finding bodies. He went on trial in June and was convicted July 22 on 82 counts: aggravated murder, kidnapping, corpse abuse and evidence tampering.

Some families complained that police hadn't taken the women's disappearances seriously, in part because some victims had drug histories or criminal records or had disappeared repeatedly. After the bodies were found, the mayor ordered a review of police handling of missing-person and sex-crime investigations.

Sowell's defense team called no witnesses during the sentencing phase of the trial and instead focused on sparing his life with sympathetic testimony about his troubled childhood, his Marine Corps service and his good behavior while serving 15 years for a 1989 attempted rape conviction.

Sowell took the stand Monday to make an unsworn statement in which he apologized.

"The only thing I want to say is I'm sorry," he told the jury. "I know that might not sound like much, but I truly am sorry from the bottom of my heart."

But jurors said his statement sounded rehearsed and lacked remorse.