Parade of family members take the stand in Cleveland Strangler t - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Parade of family members take the stand in Cleveland Strangler trial

After a long holiday weekend, testimony has resumed in the Cleveland Strangler trial.

First on the stand was Don Smith, the father of murder victim Kim Smith. Smith described his daughter's drug addiction.

Prosecutors are building a case that accused serial killer Anthony Sowell preyed on women with drug dependency to lure them to his home.

Before leaving the courtroom, Smith asked Judge Ambrose, "Do you mind if I call you Bam Bam?" Smith was referencing Judge Ambrose's football past, when he played for the Browns in the 1980's.

It was a rare, light moment in the emotionally-charged trial.

Next on the stand was Lamar Webb, son of victim Janice Webb. He says he learned of his mother's drug addiction when he was just 12-years-old. He last heard from his mother in June of 2009. Her body was found on Imperial Avenue that November. 

Like others with loved ones missing, Lamar scoured the neighborhood while other relatives put up missing persons posters.

A Defense Attorney then questioned Lamar about his felony convictions for drugs, burglary and domestic violence.

Joanne Moore, sister of Janice Webb, was the third person to take the stand Tuesday morning. 

She described going first to Lakewood Police because her sister lived there and being referred to the Cleveland Police Fourth District. CPD told her they couldn't take a report because Janice was a Lakewood resident. Her family also circulated missing persons fliers.

Joanne says some fliers were taken down. She doesn't know who did it. A witness last week said a store owner told him Sowell took them down.

Audrey Webb, another sister of Janice Webb, also took the stand. The defense attacked her credibility, and asked about her felony record of 30 convictions and being in prison several times.

Christine Shobey, the aunt of Kim Smith, was the last person before morning break to take the stand. She says Kim was an addict and at times asked her to "pray for me."

Inez Fortson, the mother of victim Telacia Fortson, took the stand following a 10-minute break Tuesday morning. Her testimony was similar to all the others. Addiction grabbing hold of a loved one, a struggle to quit and eventually failing.

Next on the stand was Jasneth Groves, foster parent to child of victim Denise Turner. She described a close relationship with Denise. It abruptly ended in about September of 2009. She never saw her alive again. 

Groves was in Jamaica when she got a call from the Coroner's Office in November of 2009 so that she could provide a DNA sample from Denise's daughter.

James Martin was next on the stand. He is victim Denise Martin's boyfriend and the father of her daughter. He says Denise turned to crack cocaine after the loss of a baby. The move led to the couple's breakup in 2002.

Martin says he recognized Anthony Sowell from the Imperial neighborhood. While working there he noticed the foul smell.

Denise Hunter, sister of victim Imelda Hunter, testified that Imelda's downward spiral began as a teen when a teacher molested her. This occurred when they live in Chicago. She became pregnant as a result.

She said she went to a 2007 party at Anthony Sowell's home with her sister. She said her sister seemed familiar with others gathered at his home.

Denise invited her to a party in April 2009, but she didn't show up. She only talked to her one more time a few days later and never again.

Sowell faces the death penalty if convicted of murdering eleven women. The bodies of the victims were found in and around Sowell's Imperial Avenue home in late 2009.

Copyright 2011 WOIO. All rights reserved.

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