Victim's Father Lunges at Serial Killer in Court During Sentencing: 'I Just Know I Wanted Him'
Chaos erupted in an Ohio courtroom when the father of a woman murdered by a convicted serial killer lunged at his daughter’s killer after he had smirked during a sentencing hearing.
Van Terry, the father of Shirellda Terry, had walked to the front of the courtroom to give a victim-impact statement in the sentencing of convicted killer and sex offender Michael Madison.
“How are you doing, your honor — my name is Van Terry, father of Shirellda Terry,” he began. “Right now, I guess we’re supposed to, in our hearts, forgive this clown.”
He turned around to face Madison, 38, who smiled maliciously as he sat with his attorneys, video footage captured by WOIW-TV showed.
“He touched our families, taking my town —,“ Terry started again before leaning on his elbow and looking back at Madison, who also killed two other women.
Madison’s smiling face was all it took for Terry to lose it.
The grieving father launched himself over a table at Madison and grabbed at his neck and face as the convict continued to grin.
“No! No! No!” audience members could be heard screaming as several bailiffs grabbed Terry and brought him out of the courtroom.
Family members of the three murdered women told WJW-TV that Madison was smiling and taunting his victims’ loved ones during the hearing.
The incident is reportedly under investigation.
"When I first went up there, I was okay," Terry told WJW-TV after the hearing. "When he looked at me with a smile, I thought that was so disrespectful. I was thinking how he mutilated my child. How you cut my child. And you did all of this while my child was still alive, so you caused my baby great pain.
"I don't know if I thought about leaping, or if I thought about what have you, I just know I wanted him," he continued. "I call it a father feeling his pain. And if I did get charged, I'm okay with that. Because I did what I felt was right."
Shirellda Terry was 18 years old when Madison killed her in 2013. She was a home-schooled, religious Christian who loved reading and was nicknamed “Ladybug” by her mother, East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton said at her funeral.
Madison was also found guilty of killing 38-year-old Angela Deskins and 28-year-old Shetisha Sheeley, whose bodies he dumped in trash bags near his East Cleveland apartment.
Madison told police he strangled two of the women but couldn't remember killing the third. Prosecutors said the women were killed over a nine-month period: Sheeley in October 2012, Deskins in May 2013 and Terry in July 2013.
Police said a cable television worker reported there was an odor coming from a garage used by tenants in Madison’s apartment building. Investigators found the decaying body of one woman inside.
Two more bodies were found in the basement of a nearby vacant home and a backyard.
Medical examiners said Deskins and Shirellda Terry were strangled, while an exact cause of death for Sheeley was never determined.
Madison was found guilty of multiple counts of aggravated murder, kidnapping and abuse of a corpse.
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Nancy McDonnell, who continued the hearing after a 15-minute delay, accepted a jury's recommendation that Madison receive the death penalty by lethal injection.
McDonnell could have chosen to sentence Madison to life in prison without parole, but she said the horrific nature of his crimes far outweighed evidence that showed he had an abusive and chaotic childhood, the Associated Press reported.
Madison didn't make any statements during Thursday's hearing except to answer questions posed by the judge. Defense attorney David Grant declined to comment afterward.
Prosecutor Tim McGinty said the death penalty was meant for criminals like Madison, whom he called the "worst of the worst."
Madison was labeled a sex offender in 2002, when he was sentenced to four years in prison for attempted rape.
Shirellda Terry’s loved ones took to social media after the hearing to thank supporters, saying: “It has been a long 3 years, 7 weeks of sitting it a court room with a non- remorseful sadistic evil person and listening to the horrific details of how our daughter died along with the other women was devastating.”
They asked supporters to come to a “healing and victory community day” to be hosted by the Northeast Ohio Alliance for Hope at Pattison Park on July 23, saying they will be “Celebrating the lives of Angela, Shetisha and Shirellda.”