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Judge agrees with jury, sentences convicted serial killer to death

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Anthony Sowell gets death penalty
  • NEW: "Hell awaits your arrival," the daughter of one victim tells Anthony Sowell
  • Sowell was convicted of 11 counts of aggravated murder and 70 other charges
  • The jury earlier this week recommended he be put to death
  • Defendant apologized during sentencing phase

(CNN) -- A judge Friday upheld a Cleveland, Ohio, jury's recommendation that convicted serial killer Anthony Sowell be sentenced to death.

Jurors convicted Sowell of 11 counts of aggravated murder and more than 70 other charges, including abusing corpses and kidnapping. Wednesday, they recommended the death penalty.

The convictions ended a saga that began in October 2009 with the discovery of the first two victims' remains inside Sowell's home in Cleveland. He eventually was accused of killing at least 11 women ranging in age from 25 to 52.

Cuyahoga County Judge Dick Ambrose imposed the sentence Friday morning. He could have overruled jurors and imposed a life sentence.

Sowell, who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, had his eyes closed during almost all of Friday's hearing, CNN affiliates reported. He made no comment.

Family members of the victims were allowed to make statements.

"Anthony, you will deal with a much higher power for the pain you have caused," said Donnita Carmichael, daughter of victim Tonia Carmichael. "You are an animal and hell awaits your arrival."

Jury recommends death for Ohio killer
Sowell: 'It's not much but I'm sorry'

Sowell's lawyers had asked for life in prison. Parole would not have been an option because Sowell, 51, is classified as a "sexually violent predator."

During the penalty phase of his trial, Sowell said he was "sorry."

"I know that may not sound like much. But I truly am sorry from the bottom of my heart," he said.

During his trial, Sowell maintained a candid banter with members of his defense team as he recounted claims of childhood abuse -- both physical and sexual.

He grew up in East Cleveland, joined the Marines at age 18 and traveled to California, North Carolina and Japan, authorities said.

Sowell served 15 years in prison for attempted rape before being released in 2005. People who met him after his release described him as "a normal guy." He was known locally for selling scrap metal.

Sowell's inconspicuous two-story home sat in a dilapidated neighborhood known as Mount Pleasant. A stench hovered around the area, but no one realized it was the scent of decaying human flesh, instead assuming it was a byproduct of a nearby sausage factory.

Many of Sowell's victims struggled with drug addiction at some point, and court records showed many resorted to stealing and prostitution to support their habits. The disappearances of the women -- many of whom lived near him -- went largely unnoticed for two years, with only four women being reported missing.