CLEVELAND -- An accused serial killer's lawyer questioned the credibility of women who survived attacks and lived to testify.
In closing arguments to the jury Wednesday afternoon, John Parker asked, "Are they worthy of belief?" He cited the survivors' drug addictions and mental health issues as points jurors should consider when they deliberate the fate of Anthony Sowell, accused of 11 murders.
"Have they proven to you who actually killed them," Parker challenged. "No eyewitesses, no fingerprints on the plastic bags, none of the defendant's DNA linked to any of the 11 homicide victims."
The 11 bodies were found over a period of several days late in 2009 inside Sowell's home on Cleveland's Imperial Avenue, and buried in his backyard.
When he called the credibility of five surviving victims into question, Parker cited the testimony of one woman who said Sowell attacked, beat, and raped her before she made it out of his house. Sowell somehow was allowed into the ambulance that took her to the hospital.
"Is that what a rapist does? Is that what somebody trying to kill somebody does? And he follows it up with a phone call," Parker said, becoming animated and raising his voice in defense of his client, Sowell.
"This man is an honorably discharged United States Marine," Parker nearly shouted. "He deserves better."
Parker also took on Cleveland Police, claiming they handled the crime scene terribly, "trampling it" as they looked to unearth bodies buried in the backyard.
"The state of Ohio has not proven the identity of the person who killed those women," he concluded.
Prosecutors were scheduled to give a closing rebuttal late Wednesday afternoon, and then the jury was to begin its deliberations. One juror was replaced Wednesday when she became ill after the morning session. Her positiion in the jury box was taken over by an alternate.