Convicted Ohio serial killer Anthony Sowell won’t be eligible for parole after being classified as a “sexually violent predator,” court officials in Cleveland said Wednesday.

Sowell was found guilty of 11 counts of aggravated murder and more than 70 other charges Friday in a string of deaths of Cleveland-area women from 2007 to 2009. Officer Ryan Miday, a spokesman for the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office, said Sowell’s classification as a sexually violent predator guarantees that he can only receive life in prison without parole or the death penalty when the sentencing phase of his trial begins August 1.

The jury could have recommended parole if members believed Sowell could be rehabilitated, according to Greg Popovich, the Cuyahoga County court administrator.

During the sentencing phase, Sowell will be able to make a statement on his own behalf without being under oath or facing cross-examination, Miday said. The defense also can call expert witnesses to discuss Sowell’s background, including his childhood and military service.

If jurors decide to recommend death, the judge can intervene and impose a life sentence — but if the jury recommends life, the judge cannot impose a death sentence, according to Popovich.

Jurors found Sowell guilty on a total of 84 counts, including abusing corpses and kidnapping. The sole not-guilty verdict came on an aggravated robbery charge.

The convictions ended a saga that began for investigators in October 2009 with the discovery of the first two sets of victims’ remains inside Sowell’s home. Eventually, they blamed him for the slayings of at least 11 women, ages 25 to 52.

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