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Supreme Court affirms death sentence imposed for serial killer Anthony Kirkland

Judge Patrick Dinkelacker sentenced convicted serial killer Anthony Kirkland, 49, to death...
Judge Patrick Dinkelacker sentenced convicted serial killer Anthony Kirkland, 49, to death Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018. (Photo: Cincinnati Enquirer)(Cincinnati Enquirer)
Updated: Aug. 18, 2020 at 11:50 AM EDT
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - After ordering a second sentencing hearing for a man convicted of murdering two teenage girls and two women, the Ohio Supreme Court today affirmed the death sentence imposed for Anthony Kirkland.

Kirkland killed Esme Kenney, 13, Casonya Crawford, 14, Kimya Rolison, 25 and Mary Jo Newton, 45, between 2006 and 2009.

Kirkland strangled three of his victims and burned each of their bodies, telling police in his 8-hour police confession “Fire purifies.”

He was sentenced to life in prison for the women’s murders and then sentenced to death for what he did to the girls.

The Ohio Supreme Court tossed out the death sentence and ordered the re-sentencing due to Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters’s statements made during closing arguments.

They said prosecutors may have been prejudicial in remarks to the jury about Esme and Casonya's killings.

Deters told jurors Kirkland deserved to die.

Esme and Casonya, he told jurors, shouldn’t be “freebies.”

Deters released the following comment on the Ohio Supreme Court’s unanimous decision to uphold the conviction of Kirkland.

”I am pleased that the Ohio Supreme Court unanimously upheld the conviction of serial killer Anthony Kirkland.

Kirkland was responsible for the murder of 4 young women in this case and had previously killed another woman.

We are very careful in my office about the cases that we present as death penalty eligible. I instruct my assistants that we only consider the “worst of the worst” cases for the death penalty and proof must be beyond dispute. We do not make this decision lightly and only seek the death penalty in cases such as this where the facts are beyond horrific and the proof well beyond the reasonable doubt standard.

I do not seek the death penalty often but when I do, in cases such as Kirkland, it is appropriate. There are some progressive prosecutors around the country who vow never to seek the death penalty, instead preferring to house and feed criminals such as Kirkland for the rest of their life. Kirkland murdered 5 women and, if ever released from prison, would not hesitate to kill again.”

In all, Kirkland has now been convicted of killing a total of five females.

He served 16 years in prison for the 1987 killing of Leola Douglas after she spurned his sexual advances.

He also set her on fire.

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