Surprise early start in trial on 11 Ohio slayings

June 3, 2011 - 1:42 PM

CLEVELAND (AP) — In a surprise move, prospective jurors have been introduced behind closed doors to a Cleveland man charged with killing 11 women.

The judge had said the case would begin Monday in his courtroom but instead assembled prospective jurors for orientation on another floor Friday, out of sight of the public and media.

Court administrator Greg Popovich apologized for the move but says the proceeding was necessary in the interests of justice. Questioning of prospective jurors begins Monday, as originally announced.

Popovich says security was a key concern, but wouldn't specify if any threats had been made in the case against 51-year-old Anthony Sowell (SOH'-wehl). He has pleaded not guilty and faces the death penalty if convicted.

Popovich says Sowell was dressed in civilian clothes and without handcuffs or leg manacles.