Defense argues Anthony Kirkland killed due to untreated mental illness

CINCINNATI -- The defense team of convicted serial killer Anthony Kirkland continued presenting their case that he killed due to untreated mental illness as Kirkland's resentencing hearing continued Wednesday.

The state rested Tuesday after they called two deputy coroners to the stand. Hamilton County Coroner's Office employees Dr. Mona Grethel Case Harlan Stephens and Dr. Karen Looman, who examined the bodies of Kirkland's victims, gave their forensic testimony on the murders.

The majority of the prosecution's case consisted of Kirkland's own words: a more-than-eight-hour interview between him and the police detectives who found him holding a missing girl's watch and iPod. 

During the 2009 interview, Kirkland confessed to raping, killing and burning 13-year-old Esme Kenney the night before and doing the same to three other women -- 14-year-old Casonya Crawford, 45-year-old Mary Jo Newton and 25-year-old Kimya Rolison -- in 2006.

Dr. Joseph Wu said analyses of Kirkland’s brain showed severe neglect and abuse. Wu called this the “perfect storm” when it comes to failures in decision-making.    

Visual and statistical analyses of Kirkland’s brain show he suffered some kind of blows to the head between the ages of 6 to 14, Wu said. The abnormalities in Kirkland’s brain look like he suffered from four separate events, according to Wu.  

“I believe he does not have the ability to control these impulses,” Wu said. 

Kirkland was sentenced to death in connection to the murders in 2010, but a comment from Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters and a ruling from the Ohio Supreme Court gave him a chance to dodge the needle this year. The men and women hearing his case now will decide whether to uphold the death penalty or give him a lesser sentence. The defense is asking for life in prison without parole.

The hearing will continue Thursday morning.

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