Niece says Ohio serial killer sexually abused her

By THOMAS J. SHEERAN | August 2, 2011 | 11:00 AM EDT

CLEVELAND (AP) — The niece of a Cleveland man convicted of killing 11 women has testified that he began sexually assaulting her when she was 10 and he was 11.

The 50-year-old woman remained composed as she testified Tuesday about what she said was years of near daily sexual abuse at the hands of Anthony Sowell (SOH'-wehl). She says that after Sowell began abusing her, an older brother and uncle did likewise.

The niece testified for the defense during the sentencing phase of Sowell's trial and apparently was meant to highlight Sowell's troubled childhood.

The same jury that last month found the 51-year-old defendant guilty of aggravated murder and other charges must now decide whether to recommend the death penalty or life in prison without parole.