A jury has found Anthony Kirkland guilty of aggravated murder in connection with the deaths of two teens and now faces the death penalty.
The jurors reached the verdict Friday at about 4 p.m., a little more than three hours after they began deliberations.
Kirkland did not react visibly as the guilty verdicts on all 10 counts were read, but he spoke to reporters as he was led from the courtroom by at least seven deputies.
“I apologize for the happenings,” Kirkland said. “That’s to everyone.”
He deferred a question about his motives to his defense attorneys, but Kirkland answered when another reporter asked if he was a monster.
“You ever seen any human being born as a monster?” Kirkland asked. “Something had to make an individual the way that they are, and I think that’s what needs to be questioned. How did he get that way?”
A sentencing phase will begin Tuesday morning at 9 a.m.
Jurors will hear from an expert witness about Kirkland’s psychological state, and at least one of his family members was expected to testify as the jury considers whether to impose the death penalty.
Kirkland himself may testify, but not under oath, which would mean he would not be cross examined by prosecutors.
Earlier, jurors heard from one witness Friday before the prosecution gave its closing argument.
The witness was a 16-year-old girl whose mother shared a home with Kirkland. She testifed that Kirkland exposed himself to her and offered to pay her for sex.
In closing arguments, defense attorney Will Welsh said he wouldn’t go over all the evidence concerning Kenney.
“It is overwhelming,” he said, adding that he knows the jury would find Kirkland guilty of both killings.
But Welsh urged jurors to set their emotions aside and make a decision based on the evidence.
In Crawford’s case, the state did not prove that Kirkland tried to rape her or commit aggravated robbery, he said. Kirkland admitted he killed Crawford, but said he did not take her cell phone or attempt to sexually assault her, Welsh said.
Welsh also reminded jurors that some of the four cases would have remained unsolved if Kirkland had not confessed to police and that he did give the families “the knowledge they needed to know.”
Prosecutors said the evidence and the defendant’s own words in recorded police interviews proves his guilt. Jurors heard hours of those statements this week.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said Kirkland had worried that he would be seen as a monster.
“I think that over the past two weeks, the state has conclusively proved that that is a fact,” Deters said.
Deters told jurors Kirkland was “devoid of human decency” and should die.
Kirkland’s statements that he burned the bodies of the two girls and two women he has pleaded guilty to murdering as some sort of “purification” ritual was nonsense, the prosecutor said. What he was doing was as old as crime itself, the prosecutor said.
“He was trying to destroy evidence,” said Deters.
“It takes a special kind of criminal to kill with his bare hands, a certain amount of viciousness,” assistant prosecutor Mark Piepmeier said. “Anthony Kirkland took those large hands of his and squeezed the life out of that little girl.”
Kirkland’s attorneys have said their client admitted killing Esme Kenney, 13, and Cassonya Crawford, 14, and they did not call witnesses in the guilt-or-innocence phase of the trial.
Kirkland was to be tried in four deaths. But before the trial began, he pleaded guilty to one count each of murder and gross abuse of a corpse in the slayings of Kimya Rolison, 25, and Mary Jo Newton, 45, both of Cincinnati. He could receive 32 years in prison to two life sentences in those killings.
What do you think his faith should be?