Monday, January 2, 2017

Imperial Avenue Murders vigil set for Jan 3, 2017: Ohio Supreme Court upholds Anthony Sowell's convictions and death sentence and activists will hold a criminal case closure vigil at 4:30 pm on Tuesday, January 3, 2017 on Imperial Avenue where Sowell murdered 11 Black women.....Call Kathy Wray Coleman of the Imperial Women Coalition at 216-659-0473, Khalid Samad of Peace in the Hood at 216-538-4043 and Alfred Porter Jr. of Black on Black Crime Inc at 216-804-7462 for more information....The Ohio Supreme Court voted 5-2 to uphold Sowell's convictions and death sentence with Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor and Justice William O'Neil, the only Democrat on the seven-member all White court, dissenting, O' Neil saying the death penalty is unconstitutional and O'Connor on other grounds....The NAACP opposes the death sentence while some but not all community activists say serial killers like Anthony Sowell are the exception...Black Lives Matter to also be in attendance.....By, Ohio's Black digital news leader

Convicted serial killer and death row
inmate Anthony Sowell
The 11 Black women (pictured above) murdered on Imperial Avenue in Cleveland by convicted serial killer and death row inmate Anthony Sowell. (Editor's note: See full pictures at the end of this atricle of the 11 Black female murder victims of Sowell ).

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By Editor-in-Chief Kathy Wray Coleman, a-24-year journalist who trained at the Call and Post Newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio for 17 years, and who interviewed now President Barack Obama one-on-one when he was campaigning for president. As to the Obama interview, CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE AT CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM, OHIO'S LEADER IN BLACK DIGITAL NEWS(Note: A former biology teacher and longtime Cleveland activist, Coleman is the most read reporter in Ohio on Google Plus with some 3.5 million views).



CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM-COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Oho Supreme Court on Dec 8. denied an appeal from Cleveland serial killer Anthony Sowell, who murdered 11 Black women and raped three others at his since demolished home on Imperial Avenue on the city's east side, affirming his convictions and death sentence in a 5-2 decision. CLICK HERE TO READ THE SLIP OPINION OF THE OHIO SUPREME COURT (Editor's note: On Dec 30 the court denied a motion by Sowell's attorneys to reconsider its decision. The 11 women murdered were: Tonia Carmichael,Telacia Fortson, Crystal Dozier, Amelda "Amy" Hunter, Michelle Mason,Tishana Culver, Leshanda Long, Nancy Cobbs, Kim Yvette Smith, Janice Webb, and Diane Turner).

Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor and Justice William O'Neil, the only Democrat on the state's seven-member all White high court, dissented. 

In response, Cleveland family members of victims of violence  and community activist groups that have been following the case since police, in 2009, began pulling bodies from Sowell's home, will hold a criminal case closure and stop violence against women vigil at 4:30 pm on Tues., Jan 3, 2017 at the spot on Imperial Avenue where Sowell's house of horrors once stood. (Call Kathy Wray Coleman of the Imperial Women Coalition at 216-659-0473, Khalid Samad of Peace in the Hood at 216-538-4043, and Alfred Porter Jr., president of Black on Black Crime Inc., at 216-804-7462 for more information)

"We want criminal closure for the victims families and I am not opposed to the death penalty," said Alfred Porter Jr, president of the Cleveland-based Black on Black Crime Inc. (Editor's note: Some civil litigation remains pending regarding lawsuits filed by some of the families of Sowell's 11 murder victims).

Community activist Kathy Wray Coleman, who leads the Imperial Women Coalition, the grassroots women's rights group founded in 2009 relative to the unprecedented murders and a key organizer of the vigil, said her group is pleased with the Supreme Court decision and that "the fight to eradicate heinous violence against Black and other women nationally, statewide and locally, and particularly in urban centers like Cleveland, is ongoing with more resources needed to fully address the epidemic."

Some other local activists, both men and women alike, share Coleman's passion.  

"Khalid Samad, of Peace in the Hood, said that he will attend Tuesday's Imperial Avenue vigil to speak and to do the opening prayer, and that "there are not enough resources shared with local agencies of color dealing with rape and murder of Black women, poor Black women in particular."

"Black Lives Matter will also be in attendance," said Rian Brown, 23, who is among the activist speakers.

Other vigil speakers include Cleveland Ward 6 Councilwoman Mamie Mitchell and East Cleveland Councilwoman Barbara Thomas.
Following an investigation, a county grand jury returned an 85-count indictment against Sowell, now 57 and a former Marine who served 15 years in prison for attempted rape.

He was convicted in 2011 on 82  counts, including 11 counts of aggravated murder and three counts of rape relative to the three Black women that escaped his murder wrath.

Though arrested on a rape complaint in 2008, the serial killer was arbitrarily released by police to kill the remaining six of the 11 women 

He was finally caught again in 2009, also following a police report of alleged rape. 

Sowell's lawyers, with support via an amicus brief filed with the Ohio Supreme Court court by the Ohio ACLU, argued that the trial court suppressed evidence and fatally erred in holding a closed hearing regarding a police interrogation of the serial murderer, and acted improperly in keeping the public, including the media, out of parts of the jury selection phase. 
Justice Terrence O'Donnell, writing on behalf of the majority, said, via the court's 5-2 slip opinion, that while Common Pleas Judge Dick Ambrose, the presiding judge in the case, failed to journalize aspects of the proceedings and did, in fact, keep the public out during parts of jury selection, his actions were not enough to overturn Sowell's convictions and death sentence, and did not warrant a new hearing.

Justice O'Neil, a liberal, and Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor, a former Lt. governor, dissented in unison as to fundamental trial court errors, both, unlike the majority, wanting reversal on those grounds and a new suppression hearing for Sowell, who did not testify at trial but took the stand during the death penalty phase and cried and begged for the jury to spare his life. 

The jury ultimately recommended the death penalty and Judge Ambrose, a Republican and former Cleveland Browns football player, obliged. 
O'Neil, in his dissent, wrote, in relevant part, that Sowell should be afforded "the same constitutional protections as the trial of a low-level thief." 
O'Connor, in a separate opinion, said that while she, like O'Neil, would have granted a new suppression hearing, she disagrees with O'Neil's posture that the death penalty is unconstitutional.

Ohio case law says the death penalty in Ohio is constitutional and the U.S. Supreme Court leaves the decision to allow it for capital murder with state legislatures, some 31 states of which allow it under state law.

Under Ohio law, discretion for the death penalty rests with the presiding judge following recommendation by a jury.

The NAACP has a longstanding tradition of opposing the death penalty, partly due to racial disparities in a broken legal system that routinely targets Blacks, Black men in particular, and poor people with ineffective assistance of counsel, malicious prosecutions, and unfair and illegal convictions and sentences.

Some activists are against the death penalty in general but say serial killers like Sowell, who is Black and sits on death row, are the exception.

"He [Anthony Sowell] is the exception," said Porter, a longtime Cleveland activist whose group, Black on Black Crime Inc., fights against Blacks killing each other erroneously as well as arbitrary police killings of unarmed Black people, among other issues of public concern. 
Sowell was scheduled to die by lethal injection on Oct. 29, 2012 but the execution by drugs was put on hold due to the state appeals process, which, having concluded, opens the door for the federal process.

Sowell's attorneys have not said publicly what move they will make next , if any, on their high profile client's behalf.

See below, the 11 Black women strangled and murdered on Imperial Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio by convicted serial killer and death row inmate Anthony Sowell. 

( ( By Kathy Wray Coleman, community activist and editor-in-chief. Tel: (216) 659-0473. Email: