Prosecutor: Allow death penalty in 3 Ohio killings

CLEVELAND (AP) — The prosecutor in a triple-murder case involving three women whose bodies were dumped in trash bags wants the judge to allow the death penalty as an option.

In a court filing Wednesday, the prosecutor in the case against Michael Madison, 36, defended Ohio's death penalty as constitutional.

"Defendant offers no evidence that the state seeks the death penalty in his case with a discriminatory purpose in mind," Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Brent Kirvel said in a 21-page filing.

He asked Judge Nancy McDonnell to clear the way for a possible death penalty at the April 28 trial.

"It is clear that Ohio's capital sentencing laws are not in any way in violation of the United States or Ohio Constitutions," he said.

The defense argued in an earlier filing that the death penalty in Ohio is imposed in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner.

"Blacks and those who kill white victims are much more likely to get the death penalty," the defense motion said. The defendant and victims are black.

Madison has pleaded not guilty to killing the women and leaving their bodies in trash bags in a rundown East Cleveland neighborhood. A pretrial hearing that had been scheduled for Thursday was postponed.

The prosecutor decided after a review to seek the death penalty based on the three killings and the risk he says Madison poses to the public.

The bodies were found in July after police were called about an odor coming from a garage.

The medical examiner said Shirellda H. Terry, 18, and Angela H. Deskins, 38, were strangled. Shetisha D. Sheeley, 28, died of "homicidal violence by unspecified means," the examiner said.

Madison was classified as a sex offender in 2002 when he was sentenced to four years in prison for attempted rape, according to court records. He had drug-related convictions in 2000 and 2001.