A father leapt across a table in court to attack the man sentenced to death for the murder of his daughter.
Moments after the judge told Michael Madison he would receive the lethal injection for the murders of 18-year-old Shirelda Terry, 38-year-old Angela Deskins and 28-year-old Shetisha Sheele, Van Terry ran towards him and jumped across the table.
The father leaped over a table to attack the defendant in court Thursday just minutes after the judge pronounced a death sentence.
Van Terry is the father of victim Shirellda Terry. Shortly before the courtroom incident, Terry had approached the podium to address the judge and speak about the impact of his daughter’s loss.
“Right now, I guess we’re supposed to, in our hearts forgive this clown, who has touched our families, taken my child,” Terry said.
Terry then paused and turned to look behind him at Madison, who was sitting behind the defense table, before running towards the convicted killer and lunging over the table at him.
Mr Terry was ejected from the courtroom so the hearing could finish.
During his trial, Madison’s legal team did not argue his innocence, instead focusing on avoiding a death sentence.
‘This history of abuse and his dysfunctional upbringing certainly doesn’t excuse what happened here but certainly provides a basis for understanding the type of person Michael Madison evolved into,’ said David Grant.
The bodies of 38-year-old Angela Deskins, 28-year-old Shetisha Sheeley and 18-year-old Shirellda Terry were found in July 2013 near the East Cleveland apartment building where Madison lived. Madison told police he strangled two of the women but couldn’t remember killing the third.
Thursday, McDonnell accepted a jury’s recommendation that 38-year-old Michael Madison receive the death penalty. She could have instead chosen to sentence Madison to life in prison without parole.
McDonnell said the horrific nature of Madison’s crimes far outweighed evidence presented in efforts to spare him, including an abusive and chaotic childhood.
The same jury convicted Madison earlier this month of multiple counts of aggravated murder and kidnapping.
The discovery of the bodies in 2013 drew national attention to the possibility that another serial killer like Anthony Sowell had been killing women in and around Cleveland. Sowell was convicted in 2011 and sentenced to death for killing 11 women whose bodies were found at his Cleveland home. The Ohio Supreme Court is considering whether to uphold his conviction and sentence.
Madison’s attorneys never contested his guilt at trial. They instead focused on saving his life by presenting evidence that Madison suffered lasting psychological damage from physical abuse as a youngster. There was testimony that Madison was abused by his drug-addicted mother, a stepfather, some of his mother’s boyfriends and family members.
“This history of abuse and his dysfunctional upbringing certainly doesn’t excuse what happened here but certainly provides a basis for understanding the type of person Michael Madison evolved into,” defense attorney David Grant told the judge Thursday.
The case began when a cable television worker reported a putrid smell coming from a garage shared by Madison at the apartment building. Inside, police found the decaying body of a woman wrapped in garbage bags that were sealed closed with tape. The next day, searchers found bodies in the basement of a vacant house and in the backyard of a home nearby.
Prosecutors argued both at trial and during the mitigation hearing that Madison deserved to die because of the circumstances surrounding the killings.
A death sentence “will send a message to the community that the strongest possible sentence will be imposed upon crimes of this nature,” Christopher Schroeder, a Cuyahoga County assistant prosecutor, told the judge.
Madison was classified as a sex offender in 2002 when he was sentenced to four years in prison for attempted rape.