SPOTLIGHT BRIEFS

Ohio man convicted of murder in 11 deaths

Posted July 22, 2011, at 9:07 p.m.

CLEVELAND — A man who lived among the rotting remains of 11 women was convicted Friday of killing all of them, bringing closure to a case that has haunted the city of Cleveland ever since the bodies were unearthed from a house that smelled like death.

Anthony Sowell, 51, was convicted of aggravated murder, kidnapping, tampering with evidence and abuse of a human corpse in the 11 deaths. He now faces a possible death sentence.

Most of the victims’ families slipped out a side entrance of the courtroom, preferring to avoid making any comment about the verdict. When Sowell was convicted of murdering Tonia Carmichael, who was strangled with an electrical charger, Carmichael’s mother and daughter clung to each other and wept as they rocked back and forth in the front row.

The jury deliberated for just over 15 hours before announcing the verdicts.

Sowell, dressed in a gray polo shirt and dark slacks, closed his lips tightly, looked straight ahead and barely moved as the first aggravated murder verdict was read before deputies immediately handcuffed him. Then he sat down, his chest heaving as he pushed himself back in the chair.

Most jurors avoided looking at Sowell while the judge read the verdicts. Two jurors wiped away tears and others swiveled in their chairs to look at sobbing relatives of victims.

When the jury left the room, Sowell raised his clasped, cuffed hands high in the air.

The sentencing phase will begin Aug. 1.

The discovery of the bodies was an embarrassment for the city’s police force, which was accused by victims’ families of failing to properly investigate the disappearances because most of the women were addicted to drugs and lived in an impoverished neighborhood. In the wake of public outrage over the murders, a panel formed by the mayor recommended a complete overhaul of the city’s handl ing of missing person and sex crime investigations.

Several victims’ families filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city last year.

Calif. man gets 4 years for stalking on Facebook

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California man who trolled women’s Facebook pages searching for clues that allowed him to take over their email accounts was sentenced Friday to more than four years in state prison after a judge rejected a plea for a lighter sentence and likened the man to a peeping Tom.

Once he took over women’s email accounts, George Bronk searched their folders for nude or semi-nude photographs or videos sent to their husbands or boyfriends and distributed the images to their contact list, prosecutors said.

The emails went to families, friends and co-workers. Women in 17 states, the District of Columbia and England were victimized.

Bronk, 24, pleaded guilty in January to charges that included computer intrusion, false impersonation and possession of child pornography.

Tiny new moon found circling Pluto

HOUSTON — Distant dwarf planet Pluto has been hiding something from Earth: another moon.

NASA announced Wednesday that the Hubble Space Telescope has found a fourth moon circling Pluto. Astronomers had been looking to see if Pluto had a ring, but instead they found another object circling the dwarf planet that is 3 billion miles from Earth.

The moon is only 8 to 21 miles wide. Pluto’s biggest moon, Charon, is 80 times bigger. The other two moons are Nix and Hydra.

Until astronomers decide a name, this moon is called P4.

Girl, mother killed in shelling in Yemen

SANAA, Yemen — Shelling by Yemeni security forces killed a young girl and her mother Friday, and army forces fought with Islamists who have overrun a southern town in clashes that killed four combatants.

Security across Yemen has nearly collapsed amid five months of mass protests seeking to topple the regime of longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

In the city of Taiz, south of the capital Sanaa, security forces have been clashing for weeks with armed tribesmen who say they came to protect protesters after a deadly government crackdown.

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