Van Terry, the father of slain teen Shirellda Terry, lunged at his daughter’s killer over a court table in Cleveland on Thursday, the Independent reports.
Terry, 36, was on his way to the stand to deliver his victim-impact statement when he suddenly lunged at Michael Madison, 38, over the court table after seeing the convicted felon smiling at him.
The incident happened moments after judge Nancy McDonnell sentenced Madison to death for killing Terry’s daughter, Shirellda Terry, 18, Shetisha Sheeley, 28, and Angela Deskins, 38. Michael reportedly wrapped the bodies in garbage bags after the killings, which occurred between October 2012 and July 2013.
Van Terry was stopped by the sheriff’s deputies before he was able to make physical contact with his daughter’s murderer. He was ushered out of the courtroom immediately after the incident. Madison appeared unfazed by the attack.
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Nancy McDonnell refused to clear the courtroom. After a 15-minute delay, the hearing resumed.
McDonnell could have sentenced Madison to life imprisonment without parole but chose instead to impose the death penalty as per the jury’s recommendation. According to her, the horrific nature of the crime far outweighed the evidence presented by the defendants in an effort to spare him.
Last month, the same jury convicted Michael of multiple counts of aggravated murder and kidnapping.
County Prosecutor Tim McGinty said that the death penalty was a fitting punishment for Madison, whom he called “the worst of the worst.”
The execution itself will be years away for multiple reasons. For one, the case has to undergo a string of appeals in order to get to the final act. Secondly, Ohio lacks the supplies necessary to execute the order, not to mention that no one knows for sure yet when the new round of executions will be implemented.
The bodies of the murdered victims were found in July 2013 near the East Cleveland apartment building where Madison lived. According to Madison’s statement to the police, he strangled the two women but doesn’t recall how and when he killed the third. Prosecutors said that the three were murdered over a nine-month period, with Sheeley getting killed in October 2012, Deskins in May 2013, and Terry in July 2013.
A cable television worker reported a foul smell coming from a garage at the apartment building where Madison lived. The police found the decomposing body of the victim wrapped in garbage bags, which were sealed shut using tape. A day after, two other bodies were found respectively in the basement of a vacant house and in the backyard of a home nearby.
Linda Deskins, Angela Deskins’s stepmother, recalled the heartbreak her family has endured during the hearing.
“Nothing anyone can say or do can make it better for him,” she said.
Madison’s lawyers never contested that their client was guilty of the murders, but they focused instead on saving his life from the death penalty by presenting evidence of psychological trauma brought upon by the physical abuse he experienced as a child. According to the testimony, Michael was abused by his drug-dependent mother, his stepfather, and some of his mother’s boyfriends and other 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,” Grant told the judge Thursday.
Prosecutors pushed for the imposition of the death penalty during the trial and the mitigation hearing on account of the nature and severity of the murders.
A death sentence “will send a message to the community that the strongest possible sentence will be imposed upon crimes of this nature,” prosecutor Christopher Schroeder told the judge.
In 2002, Madison was convicted as a sex offender after being sentenced to four years due to attempted rape.
[Image via Shutterstock]