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Published: Thursday, 9/13/2007

Convicted arsonist Powell gets death penalty in killing of four


The man convicted in the November arson that killed four people was sentenced to death Thursday afternoon after Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge Gary Cook imposed the sentence recommended by a jury last month.

Wayne Powell, 43, was convicted Aug. 21 on 10 counts of aggravated murder and one count of aggravated arson in the deaths of two women and two children. He was also found guilty on 26 death penalty specifications and after a hearing, the jury of nine women and three men recommended the death penalty.

In addition to the death penalty he also was ordered to serve a 10-year prison sentence for aggravated arson.

Killed in the Nov. 11 blaze at 814 St. John Ave. were Mary Rose McCollum, 33, her disabled mother Rose Mary McCollum, 52, and two children, including Jamal, the 4-year-old adopted son of the younger Ms. McCollum, and her cousin, Sanaa' Thomas, 2.

Powell was sentenced to death four times, one for each person killed.

The jury reached its decision to recommend the death penalty after a two-day mitigation hearing that included the testimony of Powell's mother and three brothers as well as a psychologist. The witnesses described his troubled childhood that was compounded by an abusive, alcoholic, and illicit-drug using father who spent 20 years in prison for murder.

Powell never took the witness stand during the two-week trial that included about 30 witnesses and 80 exhibits. Over the course of the trial, prosecutors presented evidence of a household of eight people sleeping just before 3 a.m. when fire erupted in the house. Four of the occupants survived.

The last person sentenced to death in Lucas County was James P. Frazier, who was convicted in 2005 for killing a 49-year-old disabled woman. His sentence is on appeal.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com

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