Serial killer's niece paints picture of childhood abuse - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Serial killer's niece paints picture of horrific childhood abuse

Posted: Updated:
CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -

The second day in the death penalty phase of the Anthony Sowell murder trial has begun.

Leona Davis, a niece of Sowell's who lived in the same house as a child, was first to take the stand on Tuesday. 

Leona moved in with Sowell's family after her mother died. She spoke of repeated beatings and abuse at the home.

Leona said all the children were tied to a banister and hit with a switch by Anthony's mother, Gertrude, when they did something wrong. She said the situation was so bad she set a fire to the house so police would come and get her. Leona said when she was beaten she was forced to first strip naked. Sowell and his brother would watch.

She wanted to kill Gertrude, but couldn't. At the age of 9, Leona got a gun and aimed it out a window at Gertrude, but couldn't go through with it. She eventually ran away.

Leona says she was sexually abused by Sowell during the time they lived in the same home. She was 10 and Sowell was 11 when this began. She said other male family members also sexually abused her "about everyday."

Leona said the day she set the fires was the happiest of her life. She was finally "out" and found security in "the institution."

When defense attorneys tried to ask her if Sowell should live or die, prosecutors objected. Judge Ambrose sustained. She said she forgives Sowell.

Leona said she never told anyone about her abuse until she learned of Sowell's arrest for the Imperial Avenue murders.

Copyright 2011 WOIO. All rights reserved.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Coroner: Gulfport murder victim was shot in the groin

    Coroner: Gulfport murder victim was shot in the groin

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 8:31 PM EDT2014-07-24 00:31:26 GMT
    According to Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove, Lamont Hayes, 41, was shot in the groin area and bled to death just a few hours later Tuesday night.More >>
    An area of Gulfport still reeling from the brutal murder of a child last week was hit with another violent death Tuesday night. According to Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove, Lamont Hayes, 41, was shot in the groin area and bled to death just a few hours later.More >>
  • Coroner: Girl's body was found in abandoned trailer's bathroom

    Coroner: Girl's body was found in abandoned trailer's bathroom

    Friday, July 18 2014 3:26 PM EDT2014-07-18 19:26:33 GMT
    It's been an extremely difficult day for family and friends as well as officers. So many people were crying, upset as the body of 5-year-old Janaya Thompson was removed from an abandoned trailer.More >>
    It's been an extremely difficult day for family and friends as well as officers. So many people were crying, upset as the body of 5-year-old Janaya Thompson was removed from an abandoned trailer. Coroner Gary Hargrove said Janaya's body was found in a bathroom.More >>
  • Two arrested for St. Martin burglary, TV theft

    Two arrested for St. Martin burglary, TV theft

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 11:44 AM EDT2014-07-23 15:44:17 GMT
    Investigators in Jackson County say two men who broke into a St. Martin home and stole a large television were arrested after they sold the TV a short time later.More >>
    Investigators in Jackson County say two men who broke into a St. Martin home and stole a large television were arrested after they sold the TV a short time later.More >>
Powered by WorldNow

208 DeBuys Road
Biloxi, MS 39531
(228) 896-1313

FCC Public File
EEO Report
Closed Captioning

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WLOX. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.