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Prospecive jurors in Ohio serial killer trial questioned

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Prospective jurors for the trial of accused serial killer Anthony Sowell were questioned Monday by the trial judge and attorneys over their views on the death penalty.

About 200 prospective jurors are being divided into groups of 15 and brought to the courtroom for orientation. Individuals in each group are then being interviewed privately about their views on the death penalty, according to court officials.

Sowell, 51, a former Marine, stood at military attention to face jurors as they entered. He was dressed in a white golf shirt and wore a goatee. He has been charged with the murder of 11 women in an 85-count indictment.

In compliance with Judge Dick Ambrose's ruling, only two members of each victim's family will be allowed in the courtroom.

One family member present in court Monday held up a picture of a victim before jurors were present.

If Sowell is found guilty, the jury must then decide whether to sentence him to death. The decision must be unanimous.

Sowell was arrested on October 29, 2009, two days after the initial discovery of bodies in and around his home. The decomposing bodies were found by police who were responding to a report by a woman who said she had been attacked in the home.

(Writing and reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Greg McCune)

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