Cleveland man convicted of murdering three women
By Kim Palmer
CLEVELAND (Reuters) – A Cleveland man was convicted on Thursday of murdering three women and wrapping their bodies in plastic to disguise them as trash, and may now face the death penalty.
Michael Madison, 38, was found guilty by a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas jury of three counts of aggravated murder in the deaths of Shetisha Sheeley, 28; Angela Deskins, 38, and Shirellda Terry, 18. Jury deliberations began on Wednesday.
He was found guilty of all 14 counts he faced, including rape, kidnapping and gross abuse of a corpse.
In a bid to save Madison from the death penalty, his attorney, David Grant, told the jury during closing arguments on Wednesday that his client was responsible for the women’s deaths but had not planned them. Grant said Madison, who had pleaded not guilty to all charges, was reckless and frequently impaired by drugs and alcohol.
Grant also had said Madison made no effort to cover up his crimes, including the smell of the decomposing bodies, and that he told police he wanted to be caught. Grant declined to comment to Reuters after the verdicts.
During the trial, prosecutors, who showed the jury grisly video of Madison’s victims, disputed defense claims that the killings were spontaneous.
Assistant Prosecutor Chris Schroeder on Wednesday called Madison a deliberate killer who wrapped his victims in multiple layers of garbage bags and left them “in the vicinity of his apartment where he could look down on his trophies.”
East Cleveland Police found the first of the three women in July 2013 after a complaint about foul odors coming from a garage behind Madison’s apartment. The bodies of two more women were discovered nearby the next day.
Madison was arrested at his mother’s Cleveland home after a two-hour standoff with police.
The trial will enter a second phase in which the same jurors will determine whether to recommend a death sentence or a prison term ranging from 20 years to life. Judge Nancy McDonnell will then make the final sentence decision.
Families of the victims as well as prosecutors said they would not comment until after the trial’s penalty phase. Jurors will return in a week for that phase, which the judge said should last four days and be followed by the jury’s sequestration.
(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Writing by Ben Klayman; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and James Dalgleish)