CLEVELAND (AP) — Testimony about an abusive childhood and the psychological damage it caused didn’t sway a jury in Cleveland that recommended Friday that an Ohio man should die by lethal injection for killing three women and wrapping their bodies in garbage bags.
The jury earlier this month convicted Michael Madison, 38, of multiple counts of aggravated murder and kidnapping. It deliberated less than a day before delivering its death penalty recommendation.
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Nancy McDonnell is scheduled to sentence Madison on Thursday. She can either accept the jury’s recommendation or sentence Madison to life in prison with no chance of parole.
Madison, dressed in a suit and tie, showed no visible emotion as McDonnell read aloud the jury’s decision. Deputy sheriffs handcuffed him as soon as the judge finished reading the verdict. Madison’s lead defense attorney rushed past news reporters without commenting afterward.
The families of the victims — 38-year-old Angela Deskins, 28-year-old Shetisha Sheeley and 18-year-old Shirellda Terry — were relieved that Madison cannot victimize any more women, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty told reporters afterward.
The women’s bodies were found near the East Cleveland apartment building where Madison lived in July 2013.
“If anyone was ever due this sentence it would be a cold-blooded serial killer like Michael Madison,” McGinty said.
The case began when a cable television worker reported a putrid smell coming from a garage shared by Madison at the apartment building. Inside, police found the decaying body of a woman wrapped in garbage bags that were sealed closed with tape. The next day, searchers found bodies in the basement of a vacant house and in the backyard of a home nearby.
Experts hired by the defense testified during the weeklong mitigation hearing that Madison suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after being physically abused as a child by his drug-addicted mother, stepfather, his mother’s boyfriends and other family members. A children’s service agency sent Madison to live with his grandmother as a young boy in the 1980s after doctors reported injuries caused by the abuse. Experts said the lack of nurturing relationships with adults led him to develop an alternate world in his mind that fueled hatred toward women.
Madison told police during an interrogation after his arrest that he strangled two of the women during fits of rage. He said he couldn’t remember killing the third woman. His attorneys didn’t dispute Madison killed the women and instead focused their case to jurors on his psychological and substance abuse problems.
Prosecutors argued both at trial and during the mitigation hearing that Madison deserved to die because of the circumstances surrounding the killings.