Brain expert said Cincinnati serial killer has 'a normal brain'

Serial killer's 'brain' on trial

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The re-sentencing of a convicted Cincinnati serial killer is underway Thursday morning.

Anthony Kirkland's lawyers are asking for a life prison term without possibility of parole.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters is once again seeking the death penalty. He has publicly said if Kirkland doesn't qualify for the death  penalty, he doesn't know who would.

But lawyers for Kirkland, 49, argue he was physically and mentally abused as a child, resulting in post-traumatic stress disorder. They also contend he repeatedly sought medical treatment.

For two days, Kirkland's defense team played recorded testimony of Dr. Joseph Wu, a brain expert and psychiatrist.

Dr. Wu showed images of Kirkland's brain and pointed out abnormalities. He said it probably happened from injuries and abuse he suffered as a child.

On Thursday, Dr. Alan Waxman, a brain expert called by state, is giving a presentation to cast doubt on Dr. Wu's recorded testimony that Kirkland suffered from PTSD.

"This is a normal brain," Dr. Waxman said. "You should be able to see abnormalities. I did not see those at all. This brain [Kirkland's] looked really good."

The defense tried to discredit Dr. Waxman by pointing out that the only brain scan he looked at was the one Dr. Wu did in 2017 and nothing before.

"There's no way to rule out a traumatic brain injury by way of a PET scan," Attorney Time Cutcher asked Dr. Waxman.

"That's correct. I would 100 percent agree with that," Dr. Waxman replied.

Judge Patrick Dinkelacker told the court he expects another day of testimony and that the jury could get the case at some point after Monday.

Kirkland's attorney said his client will, at some point, make a statement to the jury.

Monday, Jurors heard the remainder of Anthony Kirkland's recorded police confession.

In all, Kirkland has killed five women and girls and burned their bodies.

He was convicted of killing his uncle's girlfriend, Leona Douglas, in 1989 and served a 16-year prison term.

After his 2003 release, Kirkland killed two young teenagers and two women before he was caught a short distance away from his final victim, Esme Kenney, 13. He raped and strangled her at the Winton Road reservoir in March 2009.

In a rare moment of possible remorse during the interrogation, Kirkland wanted to send a message to Esme's dad and her mom, Lisa Kenney.

"I had no reason or had no right to hurt that child," he said.

The other victims are Casonya Crawford, 14, Mary Jo Newton, 45 and Kimya Rolison, 25.

Krikland admitted to choking Newton from behind in a van by Eden Park, stating she said death wouldn't be a bad thing, and dumped her body in Avondale. He then told investigators he burned her body in daylight.

"Fire purifies. It is, well no not purifying, it's also like a proper burial," he said.

Jurors on Friday began listening to Kirkland's 9-hour confession to Cincinnati police as he recounted killing Esme, a seventh-grader, after she ran into him while jogging around the reservoir.

She accidentally knocked his beer out of his hand and apologized, but he kicked and punched her, he told Detective Keith Witherell, according to the recording.

Esme ran away from him, and he chased after her. She tripped on a small fence and kept apologizing to Kirkland.

Kirklannd repeatedly beat and kicked Esme and would go on to brutally rape and murder her, ignoring her pleas to let her go.

He strangled her to death with his bare hands and then a rag.

After, he set her lower body on fire.

Kirkland is back in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court for sentencing in the deaths of Casonya and Esme.

The Ohio Supreme Court overturned his death sentence in 2010 due to statements Deters made during closing arguments.

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