CLEVELAND -- A judge Friday upheld a Cleveland, Ohio, jury's recommendation that convicted serial killer Anthony Sowell be sentenced to death.
Jurors convicted Sowell of 11 counts of aggravated murder and more than 70 other charges, including abusing corpses and kidnapping. Wednesday, they recommended the death penalty.
The convictions ended a saga that began in October 2009 with the discovery of the first two victims' remains inside Sowell's home in Cleveland. He eventually was accused of killing at least 11 women ranging in age from 25 to 52.
Cuyahoga County Judge Dick Ambrose imposed the sentence Friday morning. He could have overruled jurors and imposed a life sentence
Sowell, who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, had his eyes closed during most of Friday's hearing, CNN affiliates reported.
His lawyers asked for life in prison. Parole would not have been an option because Sowell is classified as a "sexually violent predator."
During the penalty phase of his trial, Sowell said he was "sorry."
"I know that may not sound like much. But I truly am sorry from the bottom of my heart," he said.
During his trial, Sowell maintained a candid banter with members of his defense team as he recounted claims of childhood abuse -- both physical and sexual.
He grew up in East Cleveland, joined the Marines at age 18 and traveled to California, North Carolina and Japan, authorities said.
Sowell served 15 years in prison for attempted rape before being released in 2005. People who met him after his release described him as "a normal guy." He was known locally for selling scrap metal.
Sowell's inconspicuous two-story home sat in a dilapidated neighborhood known as Mount Pleasant. At one point, one in five homes there was in foreclosure and at least a third of the residents received food stamps, according to a 2010 study by Case Western Reserve University's Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development. A stench hovered around the area, but no one realized it was the scent of decaying human flesh, instead assuming it was a byproduct of a nearby sausage factory.
Many of Sowell's victims struggled with drug addiction at some point, and court records showed many resorted to stealing and prostitution to support their habits. The disappearances of the women -- many of whom lived near him -- went largely unnoticed for two years, with only four women being reported missing.