Log in

No account? Create an account


Pregunta homicido!

Hey, LiveJournal legal brain trust: riddle me this. You know that guy in Cleveland, Anthony Sowell, who's suspected of being this horrible serial killer? They've found the remains of at least 11 people in his house, but he's only being charged with 5 murders.

What's the story? Do they think the other six bodies were there when he moved in? I mean, I know a D.A. will only charge the crimes he thinks he can get a conviction for, but it seems like if you can prove the dude killed five people, it shouldn't be hard to convince a jury to tack on the other six corpses you found in his house. Or is it some kind of paperwork thing, where they've only charged him with five murders so far?

Your help would be appreciated in clarifying this matter.


Nov. 10th, 2009 01:55 pm (UTC)
Could be that they just don't have enough evidence to prove that he was the one who killed them. Murder has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, so maybe they can't just harvest enough evidence from the bodies or something.

Or they are working on DNA evidence and such but it's taking a while.

5 murders is probably plenty for whatever maximum sentence they have there, though. Maybe the DA just said "Eh, good enough."
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 10th, 2009 02:26 pm (UTC)
I bet he has only been charged with 5 so far. More to come!
Nov. 10th, 2009 02:31 pm (UTC)
They sometimes like to hold potential cases in reserve - so that if he walks on one set of charges in one trial, they can start over in a new trial (more importantly, with a new and hopefully less dumb/impressionable/softhearted jury). I think it's typical to cue up the strongest cases first, of course, but they figure it can't hurt to have a backup.

Presumably, this is most likely to happen in a situation in which being convicted of just one of the charges would put the guy away for sixteen life sentences or qualify for the death penalty, so that the sentence wouldn't change from a practical standpoint (it's effectively "until he dies" either way) if they were to load on more charges.
Nov. 10th, 2009 02:46 pm (UTC)
Maybe the other 6 had heart attacks when they saw him killing the other 5 so it's TOTES NOT HIS FAULT. JEEZ, GIVE A MASS MURDERER A BREAK ALREADY.
Nov. 10th, 2009 03:47 pm (UTC)
Leonard, I'm shocked. The guy is clearly innocent of those six murders.
Nov. 10th, 2009 04:48 pm (UTC)
Your friend lietya is probably correct, that they are holding some cases in reserve. Though it is notoriously difficult to get inside the mind of a DA (and believe me, I have tried). There is an equal likelihood that they haven't collected enough evidence to tie Sowell to those other bodies, and it would be damaging to the stronger evidence to prosecute weaker cases along with the better ones. The last thing the DA wants to do in this case is confuse a jury or give the defense any chance to introduce any kind of doubt. Juries are incredibly impressionable, and a good defense attorney could do enough sleight-of-hand to hang one. Plus, as lietya also mentioned, getting a conviction on two or three strong cases is going to be enough to put this guy away for life several times over.

Now, does that solve the problem of justice/retribution for the familes and friends of the victims whose cases might never see trial? No. But such is our justice system.
Nov. 10th, 2009 05:51 pm (UTC)
Oddly enough, I'm reading Woodward's book on the Supreme Court right now, and this was apparently a matter of controversy back in 1970 - someone was charged with multiple counts and police malfeasance/incompetence in trying one of them let him go free.
Nov. 10th, 2009 05:55 pm (UTC)
It's like that time when I was in high school and we camped out for tickets to the Joshua Tree tour? We were so hip. Anyway, the next morning the tickets sold out before we got to the front of the line, and then the moment we left they announced two more shows. The DA's just trying to build demand. HELD OVER FOR SIX MORE HOMICIDES!
Nov. 10th, 2009 08:15 pm (UTC)
I imagine it has to do with determining cause of death for all the recovered individuals. The mainstream news reports allude to very advanced decomposition in some cases and the less soft tissue available for autopsy, the smaller your window for cause and manner of death.

Also, strangulation can be hard to prove as a cause of death especially if there's not a lot of soft tissue to consider on some of these individuals. It doesn't show up in skeletal remains with any rate that inspires confidence.

Finally, 11 bodies may not actually be 11 bodies. It sounds like these women were not buried with any sort of care, some of these remains may be commingled and without DNA testing- they can't necessarily say for certain there are 11 based on physical evidence alone.

As more of the lab stuff comes back, they'll probably charge him with additional counts but they have to have a reasonable suspicion of homicide besides association before they can do that.
Nov. 11th, 2009 05:27 am (UTC)
People sure know a lot about homicide investigation...
Nov. 11th, 2009 12:58 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 24th, 2009 04:37 am (UTC)
Side bar: As a dead man, would you prefer to be an official victim, or an unofficial one? Being an official victim gives you better odds of letting your peeps know you're out of the game.


flavored with age
Gun-totin', Chronic-smokin' Hearse Initiator
Ludic Log


Leonard Pierce is a freelance writer wandering around Texas with no sleep or sense of direction. If you give him money he will write something for you. If you are nice to him he may come to your house and get drunk.

Latest Month

December 2016
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow