CLEVELAND — The father of one of three victims of Ohio serial killer Michael Madison 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.
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“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.
Cuyahoga County courtroom deputies wrestled Terry as Madison and others scrambled to get out of the way. The courtroom momentarily burst into chaos, as someone sitting in the gallery repeatedly yelled “No!” and someone else screamed, “Terry!”
Law enforcement officers dragged Terry from the courtroom. Madison didn’t appear to be injured.
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Nancy McDonnell declined to clear the courtroom, and after about a 15-minute delay, the sentencing hearing continued.
The outburst happened minutes after McDonnell sentenced Madison to death for the 2013 killings.
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.