The Ohio Supreme Court has removed a Cleveland judge from hearing the case of accused serial killer Anthony Sowell after attorneys accused her of being biased after finding postings about their client on a newspaper website.
Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold was removed from the case Thursday, and it has been turned over to the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas for reassignment to another judge.
Sowell faces murder, attempted murder, rape and attempted rape charges in connection with the killings of 11 women and attacks on five other women. He was arrested after the bodies of the slain women were found at his house last fall, and he has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Sowell's attorneys, John P. Parker and Rufus Sims, filed an affadavit Monday seeking Saffold's disqualification, according to court documents. They based their argument on three allegations: Saffold had "improper," ex parte conversations with the former judge on the case, Timothy McGinty, and a newspaper reporter from the Cleveland Plain Dealer; e-mails from her personal and office accounts allegedly were sources of information for a March 26 Plain Dealer article; the judge has a financial interest in the case because she and her daughter have sued the newspaper over the apparent use of her e-mails as sourcing for that article.