Death at last for serial killer Anthony Kirkland? Judge announces decision

Published: Aug. 28, 2018 at 8:32 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 28, 2018 at 12:48 PM EDT
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Anthony Kirkland's final four victims: Esme Kenney, 13, Casonya Crawford, 14, Kimya Rolison, 25...
Anthony Kirkland's final four victims: Esme Kenney, 13, Casonya Crawford, 14, Kimya Rolison, 25 and Mary Jo Newton, 45. (Photo: File)

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A judge sentenced a convicted Cincinnati serial killer to death Tuesday morning.

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."

Serial killer gets second chance at life

Kirkland showed no emotion when the jury announced earlier this month he should die.

He had asked them and the judge to spare his life.

Kirkland told the court could not provide any explanations for "my atrocious acts."

His lawyers argued he was abused by relatives and that adversely impacted his life.

Prosecutors didn't buy it and warned the jury not to be fooled.

If the death penalty doesn't apply to Kirkland, Deters has said, he doesn't know who the person would be that should get it.

"We've heard a lot of gobbly-gook all about week about his brain and all this other stuff. He's a college graduate," Deters told the jury. He's a serial killer."

After court, Deters told reporters "there's so much sadness around this case, just incredible sadness. And our thoughts and prayers go with the families. I hope the got some comfort and some justice was available today."

Kirkland killed for years before his murderous trail ended at the Winton Road reservoir in March 2009.

That's where he killed his final victim, Esme.

The gifted artist, a seventh-grader at the Cincinnati School for Creative & Performing Arts, went for a fast jog once around the reservoir on the first beautiful day of spring - and was never seen alive again.

It was the first time her mother had let her go around the reservoir by herself.

What should have been a joyous milestone in her young life ended in horrific tragedy.

She accidentally bumped into Kirkland head-first on the path, enraging him when she spilled his beer, according to his police confession.

He beat her, and she tried to run from him but tripped on a small fence.

He overpowered her and raped her and then, ignoring her pleas to spare her life, strangled her for several minutes with his bare hands and a rag.

Once she was dead, he set her lower body on fire and walked off with the watch her father gave her for Christmas and her iPod.

Kirkland still had the teen's items on him several hours later when Cincinnati police spotted him sleeping nearby and took him into custody.

Esme's brutal rape and strangulation finally led to police charging Kirkland with multiple murders to keep him locked up for good.

Kirkland already was sentenced to life in prison for the women's murders and then sentenced to death for what he did to the girls.

But the Ohio Supreme Court tossed out the death sentence and ordered the re-sentencing due to 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.

It's wasn't enough that he was already sentenced to life in prison for the deaths of Rolison and Newton.

Esme and Casonya, Deters told jurors, shouldn't be "freebies."

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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