Judge Dick Ambrose has been selected to replace Saffold.
Sowell, 50, is charged with the murder of 11 women, along with several counts of rape and one of attempted murder. In April, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason announced that a grand jury had returned a 10-count indictment against Sowell for allegedly raping another female at his home. Sowell has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Acting Ohio Chief Justice Paul E. Pfeifer made the decision to remove Saffold after reviewing a motion filed by Sowell's defense attorney, Rufus Sims.
Sims argued that Saffold should be disqualified to remove any appearance of "prejudice" or "bias."
In a written response to the motions, Saffold denied each of the accusations and claimed that her 23-year-old daughter is responsible for the online comments.
Pfeifer did not find that Saffold had engaged in any inappropriate behavior or had a financial stake in the Sowell trial, but he was concerned by the online postings and ruled that she should be removed from the case to "avoid any appearance of impropriety."
"Although Judge Saffold denies that she was the source of these online comments, she has admitted that the comments originated from the online account shared by her and members of her family," Pfeifer wrote in his ruling. "I find that these unfortunate postings have created a situation that poses an impediment to the judge's ability to resolve any remaining legal and factual issues in a way that will appear to the parties and the public to be objective and fair."
Saffold was unavailable for comment today, but she did fax a written response to the court on Thursday in which she denied any wrongdoing and said that any further speculation is "mere conjecture, an attempt to make this judicial process a sideshow and shift focus from the real issues in this case."
Following the ruling, Sims told Cleveland.com that he was satisfied with Pfeifer's decision and was "happy to move on."
The latest ruling marks the second time in recent months that a new judge has been selected to preside over Sowell's case. In December, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Timothy J. McGinty stepped down, citing a potential conflict with his own "public policy reform efforts." That decision came after McGinty admitted to defense attorneys that he had released a 2005 sexual predator evaluation of Sowell to the media.
It remains unclear whether Sowell's trial will still be held as scheduled in June, or whether the latest changes will result in a new date.