Sentencing day 4: Anthony Sowell trial

Sister says she loves Sowell, good with children

CLEVELAND - Follow along with NewsChannel5 web producer Jen Steer during the sentencing phase of the trial for convicted serial killer Anthony Sowell. Check @WEWScourt for more.

As the sentencing phase for convicted serial killer Anthony Sowell continues, more family members take the stand.

In July, Sowell, 51, was found guilty on multiple counts of aggravated murder for the deaths of 11 women. Their remains were found decomposing around his house and buried in his backyard at the end of October 2009.

On Thursday, the defense called Sowell's half-sister, Tressa Garrison, who tearfully said she loves her brother. She also told the jury about the incident that resulted in Sowell's 15-year prison term.
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4:59 p.m.: Right before 5 p.m., defense attorney John Parker finishes his questioning of Dr. George Woods. Cross-examination will have to wait until tomorrow.

4:52 p.m.: "In prison, he was a model inmate. He continuously sought employment," Dr. Woods said. "He was a valuable employee, as well." Woods said while Sowell did not seek treatment for his mental illness, he tried to cope with it the way he knew how: by staying busy.

Woods suggests that Sowell thrived in the Marines, in prison, in training programs and at work because he had structure in those environments.

4:33 p.m.: "Delusions are organized psychotic experiences," Woods said. Woods said in a paper he is working on he talks about how people with injuries can have delusions.

"When Mr. Sowell went into the Marines, we had no skills. He had to learn how to be an electrician," Dr. Woods said. "After his cardiac event, he was unable to do a job he had done for a year and a half."

4:15 p.m.: "He did well in a structured environment," Woods said, referring to Sowell's 15-year prison sentence. Parker specifically asks about Sowell claiming to hear voices during his interrogation from October 2009. During that interrogation, the then-50-year told detectives that the voice said not to go into the room with the bodies.

"He develops this delusion… after the heart attack. He doesn't have that prior to the heart attack," Dr. Woods said. "My assessment isn't about right or wrong."

4:07 p.m.: After an afternoon break, forensic psychiatrist Dr. George Woods is back on the stand. Anthony Sowell's defense attorney John Parker is asking him about Sowell's heart condition and how it may have impacted his behavior. Woods said that Sowell's doctors did amazing work after his heart attack to save his life by placing stints, and eventually a pacemaker.

Wood also said that depression is common in people with heart disease and in particular, those who have had a heart attack.

3:12 p.m.: Based on an interview with Sowell's cellmate of nearly 10 years, Roosevelt Lloyd, Dr. Woods said Sowell had an obsession with counting. He counted the inmates, the food in the prison and his clothes. He would also assign a value to all of his belongings and count that as well. Lloyd spoke of times when they would lock down the prison because Sowell would become so agitated when he couldn't locate something.

"He would go off," Woods read from the lengthy report.

2:51 p.m.: During one of his evaluations, Anthony Sowell told the doctor that he remembered mimicked sex with a "Chatty Cathy" doll and smearing feces on it, as a child. He also witnessed his relatives engaging in sexual acts with each other. Dr. Woods said Sowell even spoke about having sex with his niece, who was 11 at the time.

2:32 p.m.: "Trauma lays the foundation for obsessive compulsive disorder," Dr. Woods said. "Trauma is not just abuse, it's neglect as well… Someone that is neglected can suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as well… It creates, in children, anticipatory anxiety." He said people who have been beaten as children develop copping mechanisms, but the person watching the beaten does not. It appears he is referring to earlier testimony that the other children in Sowell's house growing up were tied up naked, and beat with sticks and cords, but Sowell was not.

Reading from his report, Dr. Woods said "the twins were treated more like slaves, than grandchildren." That would be consistent with what Leona and Ramona Davis told jurors.

"OCD is about how do you act when things get out of control?" the doctor explains, while facing the jury. He said, smiling, that he is tired of saying obsessive compulsive disorder and will use the acronym.

"When Mr Sowell was young, he described to me, his house was dissociated," Dr. Woods said. "When you look at his academic records, he did very poory… Yet he rarely missed a day. He didn't have any behavior problems."

2:14 p.m.: Dr. Woods gave a lengthy list of mental problems that Sowell suffers from, including obsessive compulsive

disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder with type one trauma, cognitive disorder not otherwise specified, psychosis and cognitive disorder not otherwise specified.

"Mr Sowell has numerous neuro-psychotic disorders," Dr. Woods said. "He has hyper-sensitivity."

"The anxiety of the trauma, and I'm talking about the childhood trauma, resulted in obsessive compulsive disorder," Dr. Woods said. He said that Sowell also suffers from irritability and dissociation.

2:03 p.m.: Dr. Woods said he examined 51-year-old Anthony Sowell twice in 2010. He said he reviewed a lot of information including: Interrogation tapes, autopsy reports, crime scene photos, victims' statements, medical records, military medical records and reports from Child and Family services. He even went to Sowell's Imperial Avenue house, paying attention to the basement.

1:47 p.m.: "There are several medication conditions that can present themselves with psychiatric symptoms," Dr. Woods said. He said he has a clinical practice and a forensic practice.

"I have never been asked to do an evaluation by the government, by the state," he said about his forensic practice, where he works mostly on death penalty cases.

"You may be asked does this person know right from wrong? In this case, no. The jury has made the decision," Dr. Woods said.

1:28 p.m.: The first person to take the stand after the lunch break in Dr. George Woods. He has asked not to be photographed, but he is a paid witness and the judge has told the media there is no court order against showing his face. Dr. Woods lists off his credentials. Quick research on the web shows Dr. Woods works closely with Dr. Dale Watson, who testified on Monday. Dr. Watson said that Anthony Sowell suffers from brain dysfunction.

1:17 p.m.: We're still anticipating testimony from another doctor, a military expert and Anthony Sowell himself. There have been few occasions during the trial where we've heard Sowell's voice, one being the 12 hours of muffled interrogation video.

11:57 a.m.: During the re-cross-examination, APA Pinkey Carr asks more about the past conviction. Sowell pleaded guilty to attempted rape, served time in prison and was released in 2005. Garrison said there were two women involved and someone broke into the house to steal the cocaine that Sowell was selling. She eludes to her theory that one of those people was responsible for the rape.

"He plead basically because his family disowned him. He didn't have any help," Garrison said. She continues to blame the police for Sowell's convictions, even saying there is a conspiracy against the Sowell family. Carr's tone is sarcastic, but the witness has yet to realize it, as Garrison suggests Lori Frazier had a hand in the murders.

"Don't put words in my mouth because that's not what I said," Garrison said.

"It wouldn't be his fault, would it?" Carr said, her tone still light.

"I'm not saying that," Garrison responds. She appears to be another witness called by the defense that only helped the prosecution's case.

11:46 a.m.: "Do remember an incident when you were a child with a piggy bank?" Parker asked. But Tressa Garrison seems to have no recollection. Parker decides to ask her what the jury needs to know.

"Life has it's ups and downs. Sometimes we have the wrong turns, not by choice," Garrison said. "Life just turned him the wrong way and he didn't know how to come back. He's a loving person. This person he's become… I think it's my fault, it's my mother's fault, it's the police's fault, it's the Marines' fault."

"He's truly been my best friend since I had my children," Garrison said. "He tried to be that man in my life, because I didn't have a man in my life. My father died when I was two."

"I need him now more than ever," Garrison said, as she starts crying. Sowell wipes the tears from his eyes.

11:30 a.m.: Garrison said in 2009 she moved closer to her brother so he could help out with their mother who was sick. Her family lived within walking distance of his Imperial Avenue house.

"Yeah, we always noticed the odor. We always noticed," Garrison said. "We thought it was Ray's Sausage. All the neighbors thought it was Ray's Sausage… We didn't find out what it was until everything came out. They said it was the dead bodies."

"I got a phone call from my daughter and I rushed home. And that's when everything slapped me in the face."

"My first thought was 'What the hell is going?' My second thought was 'Who all was involved?' Because he wasn't the only one in the house. My third thought thought was 'Who knew about this?' Because Lori was stalking him. Hiding in the bushes."

"The police had been to the house. If anyone should know what a dead body smells like, they should."

11:14 a.m.: During Garrison's testimony, she said that before her brother starting Lori Frazier, he was different. He would help out elderly neighbors and take care of his step-mother, she said. When he started dating Frazier, is when his drug use began, Garrison told the jury.

"Me

and my daughter noticed it at the same time. We noticed the little ticks," Garrison said. "I asked him if he was doing drugs with Lori?" But he denied it.

She said one time Sowell called her crying after him and Frazier got into a fight. While at Sowell's Imperial Avenue house, Garrison got into a confrontation with Sowell's live-in girlfriend. Garrison has admitted she has a temper.

"Once you get to a certain point, there ain't no turning it off," Garrison said. "She was pushing his buttons."

11:05 a.m.: We lost audio in the media room during the time that APA Carr was asking Sowell's half-sister, Tressa Garrison, about his past rape conviction. With nothing, but video coming from the courtroom, the media room is in a bit of panic and once the audio comes back on, they've moved on to another topic.

10:44 a.m.: "Do you remember that incident? The incident that involved your brother going to prison?" Carr asked about the case that sent Sowell to prison for 15 years. Garrison said there were two women involved and she was in the house at the time. The defense objects to this line of questioning and they meet in sidebar. This is one of the longest sidebars of the trial and the sound is cut off on the feed camera, but as we wait to hear more details about Sowell's past conviction, the sound does not come back on.

10:23 a.m.: Garrison admits that she has a history with drugs, smoking cocaine while she was living in Florida. When she moved back to Cleveland, she was waitressing and said the drugs helped her work the midnight shift. She said Sowell wasn't using drugs when he entered the Marines, but started using later on.

"He couldn't mix it," Garrison said. "He couldn't drink and smoke weed because it would make him angry." His half-sister recounts a time when her and the mother of Sowell's child, Twyla, were talking to a girl, who Sowell hit in the face and made her bleed. A courtroom observer said Garrison, who has asked to not be shown on camera, was smiling during her stories.

10:12 a.m.: Garrison said she ran away from the house on Page Avenue and used to go dancing at all hours of the night, which upset her mother. She was in and out of a juvenile detention from the time she was 11 until 18. While answering assistant prosecuting attorney Pinkey Carr's questions, she said she didn't have any reports of child abuse or neglect against her.

"Yes, I do have one for my daughter to school and that was during this whole case. I wasn't going to send her to school. My baby girl," said Garrison.

9:48 a.m.: Sowell's sister said the discovery on Imperial Avenue made it hard on her family.

"First of all, I was already going through a lot. My mother had had a stroke. My daughter was still sick," Garrison said. "My other daughter was freaking out because she was thinking it was him (Sowell)… So I'm having to deal with all of this. I was shocked. I was surprised."

"He is loved. He's helped people," Garrison said. "He's had cookouts because a lot of children in the neighborhood he was in wasn't being fed."

"He was enjoying life before his pace maker… He was a nice guy, I don't know what happened. I miss him."

9:40 a.m.: "He was just very sick. He thought he had the flu and I kept loading him up with medicine," Garrison said. "I think he thought he had the flu too." Weeks later, they discovered that he was having a heart attack.

"He was helping a lady on his street, shovel snow. And I told him 'You can't be doing that. You can't be trying to help other people when you're sick yourself.'" Garrison said she was shocked because he was so young and wondered why this heart condition wasn't spotted when he took his exam for the Marines.

Garrison said her children love her brother and that he's her "right-hand man."

9:33 a.m.: While Sowell was in the Marines, and living in North Carolina with his wife, Garrison came to live with him.

"She was so sweet, she was the sweetest little thing," she said, about Sowell's wife, Kim. At one point, Sowell was working on a car and it blew up in his face, Garrison said. He was blinded and upset about his condition. "He's used to doing things for himself. He's a Marine." When Sowell got out of prison, after serving 15 years for a rape conviction, Garrison saw a change.

"He was meaner. Let me rephrase that. There was no more softness to him," Garrison said. "He was aggressive."

9:18 a.m.: Tressa Garrison depicts a different picture of the house on Page Avenue than her nieces did earlier this week. Garrison remembers her nieces, who came to live with her mother because their mother had passed, as being a constant source of trouble. While Leona Davis said her and her siblings cleaned the house and were severely beaten when things weren't done properly.

"I was abused. I went to a detention home and I was abused there. I was abused by a staff member," Garrison said. Something about what Garrison is talking about has made Anthony Sowell very antsy. He shifts his weight and rocks back in forth.

Something has hit a nerve.

9:09 a.m.: Garrison remembers little about the house on Page Avenue, where she lived with her mother, grandmother, Anthony, her nieces and her nephews.

"I was the baby of the family and no one really wanted to be bothered with me," Garrison said. "The kids were a handful for my brother and me, the Davis kids." She said that her mother worked three jobs and that her grandmother, Irene, was in charge of punishing the children.

"She would tie them up to the two posts because they would run. The twins would run. She would go out and get a switch, or an extension cord, or her cane." Her nieces, who testified on Tuesday, set the house on fire three times. According to Leona Davis, she set the fires because the abuse was so bad, she would do anything to get out of the house.

"My mother had had it. She worked so hard for the things that she had and she wasn't going to let them destroy it," Garrison said.

8:57 a.m.: Anthony Sowell's half-sister, Tress Garrison, takes the stand first this morning in the sentencing phase of the trial. Garrison testified early on in the first phase of the trial and spoke about the day she found out about the bodies on Imperial Avenue.

"I had to get the kids together and the reporters started coming… I didn't have a moment," Garrison said on the seventh day of the trial last month. "I had to find a place to live. I had to take my kids out of school." This brought about the first and only outburst, which was from Amelda Hunter's brother, John Hunter.

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