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Ohio Supreme Court upholds death penalty for man convicted of killing 2 teens

Aug. 18 (UPI) -- The Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the death sentence for a man convicted of killing two teenagers.

Anthony Kirkland, 51, was given two death sentences in 2010 for the rapes and murders of Casonya Crawford, 14, in 2006 and Esme Kenney, 13, in 2009. Both bodies were set on fire.

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He previously served 16 years in prison for manslaughter for the death of his uncle's girlfriend, Leona Douglas, in 1987. He also was sentenced to 70 years to life in prison for the 2006 deaths of Mary Jo Newton and Kimya Rolison, to which he pleaded guilty.

The state's high court earlier overturned Kirkland's death sentence but after a new penalty hearing in 2018, he was again sentenced to death. The high court upheld that new sentence Tuesday.

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Kirkland's attorneys said he should receive life in prison because he had a brain injury. Three doctors testified for the prosecution that scans of Kirkland's brain didn't show any damage.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters said he was pleased by the court's unanimous decision.

"I do not seek the death penalty often but when I do, in cases such as Kirkland, it is appropriate. There are some progressive prosecutors around the country who vow never to seek the death penalty, instead preferring to house and feed criminals such as Kirkland for the rest of their life," he said. "Kirkland murdered five women and, if ever released from prison, would not hesitate to kill again."

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