Note:One in Four's content is accessible to all versions of every browser. However, this browser may not support basic Web standards, preventing the display of our site's design details. We support the mission of the Web Standards Project in the campaign encouraging users to upgrade their browsers.


Serial killer and 'sexual sadist' fights for right to die

Irish Independent

AN IVY League-educated serial killer is fighting his former lawyers and his own father for the right to become the first person to be executed in New England since 1960.

Michael Ross (45), a former Cornell University agriculture student and self-confessed "sexual sadist" who admits strangling eight young women in the 1980s, is scheduled to die by lethal injection in Connecticut on January 26 after deciding to abandon his appeals.

He says that he should have killed himself while at Cornell "before I allowed my illness to take the lives of others", and insists that his death will ease the pain of the victims' families.

In a prison interview with a psychiatrist, he said: "I owe these people. I owe them. I killed their daughters.   "I'm hoping January 26 I will be executed. And maybe a year or two or three they'll be able to look back on this day as the day they were able to start letting go of the anger," he said.  "Because I can relate to them in a way nobody else out there can. I wake up every day and I know why I'm here."

Ross's former lawyers and civil liberties activists representing his father have gone to court to stop the execution, arguing that he is mentally incompetent to "volunteer" to die. They argue the execution would be "state-assisted suicide".

The case has become a legal battle over whether the death penalty will return after more than four decades to traditionally liberal New England.

Of more than 940 people who have been executed since the US reinstated capital punishment in 1976, not one has been in New England.   The controversy is taking place as executions decline in America, dipping to 59 last year from a peak of 98 in 1999.

Capital punishment is confined mostly to the traditionally conservative South. Ohio and Nevada were the only two states outside the South to execute anyone last year. More than a third of the nation's executions took place in Texas, which put 23 inmates to death last year.

The last person to die in the six New England states was Joseph "Mad Dog" Taborsky. He went to the electric chair in Connecticut in 1960 for a string of murders and robberies.

New Hampshire, the only other New England state to allow capital punishment, has no one on death row and has not executed anyone since 1939.

Rhode Island has not executed anyone since 1845; Maine, 1885; Massachusetts, 1947; and Vermont, 1954.   Ross has fired his public defenders and has hired a private lawyer to defend what he calls his right to die.   "When the public defenders are messing around with me I get depressed. I worry," he told the psychiatrist.   "They've told me they can drag this thing out another ten to fifteen years. Dragging this out another ten to fifteen years is the worst thing they can possibly do."


Contact information

Run for and by people who have experienced sexual abuse.