Jury could reconsider death penalty for Cincinnati serial killer

Jury could reconsider death penalty for Cincinnati serial killer

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A convicted serial killer could return to a Hamilton County courtroom to challenge his death penalty sentence.

The Ohio Supreme Court this month granted a motion allowing Anthony Kirkland to be re-sentenced by a jury.

Kirkland was convicted of murder in the 2006 death of 14-year-old Casonya Crawford and 2009 killing of 13-year-old Esme Kenney.

Before his trial began Kirkland also pleaded guilty to killing two other women.

Attorneys for Kirkland argued "prosecutorial misconduct" deprived the defendant of a fair sentencing phase. A panel of judges independently reviewed that claim and ultimately decided in 2014 to uphold his death penalty sentence.

But a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision set a new precedent requiring a jury - not a judge - to find each fact necessary to impose a death sentence, the defense argued in the motion filed March 3.

Prosecutor Joe Deters has asked the Ohio Supreme Court for clarification on their ruling.

Four of the seven justices agreed to grant the motion and send the case back to trial court for a new sentencing hearing.

"I have hurt so many people with these for murders," Kirkland said. "I could not stop the rage and the anger and make the bad Anthony go away."

If a jury re-hears the case, the victims' families would likely be involved in the testimony, according to legal analyst Mike Allen.

Kirkland's high profile trial began in March 2010 and lasted one month before jurors recommended he be put to death.

Casonya Crawford's body was found in Avondale in May 2006.

In March 2009, Esme Kenney was killed while jogging near the Winton Road reservoir. The coroner determined that she had been raped and strangled to death. While searching for Kenney, police found Kirkland in a wooded area with Kenney's watch and iPod in his pocket.

Kirkland killed three of his victims by strangulation and burned their bodies.

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