Kirkland indicted in 3 deaths

Published: Mar. 17, 2009 at 9:48 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 18, 2009 at 11:28 AM EDT
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Anthony Kirkland
Anthony Kirkland
Esme Kenney
Esme Kenney
Casoyna Crawford
Casoyna Crawford
Mary Jo Newton
Mary Jo Newton

CINCINNATI (AP) - A state prosecutor said Tuesday he'll seek the death penalty for a registered sex offender indicted in the deaths of a woman and two teenage girls whose bodies were found burned.

"He needs to be executed," prosecutor Joseph Deters said at a news conference Tuesday announcing the Hamilton County grand jury indictment of Anthony Kirkland on 12 counts involving the slayings.

Kirkland faces two counts of aggravated murder and one count each of attempted rape, aggravated robbery and gross abuse of a corpse in the death this month of 13-year-old Esme Kenney.

Kirkland, 40, was arrested on a murder charge after Cincinnati police found him near Kenney's partially burned body in woods near her home March 8. Police say she had left her home the day before to go jogging and was strangled.

The indictment charges Kirkland with the same offenses in the death of 14-year-old Casonya Crawford, whose body was found May 9, 2006, in a Cincinnati neighborhood.

Kirkland also was charged in the indictment with one count of murder and one count of gross abuse of a corpse in the death of 45-year-old Mary Jo Newton, of Cincinnati. Her body was found in the same Cincinnati neighborhood as Crawford's body on June 15, 2006.

Before Kirkland 's arrest in the Kenney case, he had been questioned about the 2006 deaths. The charges in the deaths of Kenney and Crawford carry the possibility of the death penalty upon conviction, and the charges in Newton's death carry the possibility of life in prison.

Deters described Kirkland as "a serial killer" and said he would seek the death penalty in the Kenney and Crawford cases. Kirkland , who has pleaded not guilty in Kenney's death but hasn't entered pleas in the other two cases, was being held at the county jail on $5.3 million bail.

A message was left Tuesday for his attorney, John Keller.

Deters said he couldn't comment on motives in the killings, but he said Kirkland deserved "nothing less than execution."

"These are innocent, innocent victims being hunted down by a predatory animal," Deters said.

Kirkland was accused in 1987 of setting a woman on fire and killing her. He pleaded guilty to reduced charges and was sentenced to seven to 25 years in prison. He was released in 2003. Court records also show he was convicted in March 2008 of soliciting sex from a 13-year-old girl and was jailed until Oct. 20, 2008. He was convicted of two counts of unlawful restraint in 2007.

Since 2005, he has been acquitted of charges of public indecency, inducing panic, endangering children, rape and aggravated burglary.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)