[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----TEXAS, NEV., MASS., CONN.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Apr 29 12:33:01 CDT 2005
'Waco Horror' spurs dialogue about past, present
Local residents discussing the very public 1916 lynching of a black
teenager in downtown Waco failed on Wednesday to reach a consensus on the
need for a historical marker commemorating the grisly event, but something
almost as important emerged.
Folks in Waco were at last talking openly about the event.
Congregation members from Waco's predominantly black Antioch Missionary
Baptist Church joined those of the largely white Seventh & James Baptist
Church at the latter's sanctuary to hear Houston author Patricia Bernstein
discuss her book about the lynching, The First Waco Horror.
"I hope this won't be our last fellowship, that this will be the start of
something wonderful," said the Rev. Delvin Atchison, pastor of Antioch,
after an evening that saw residents of different races and perspectives
debate how best to mark an event mostly hushed up by generations of
Atchison and Seventh & James' pastor, the Rev. Raymond Bailey, got to know
each other through Waco's 1st popularly elected black mayor, the late Mae
Jackson. And when Bernstein came to town to discuss her book, the 2
decided to bring their congregations together for a talk about the book,
race relations and getting past an event missing from most history books.
The First Waco Horror details the lynching of 17-year-old Jesse
Washington, a farmhand convicted of murdering and raping an area white
woman. Immediately after his conviction on May 15, 1916, Washington was
taken by a mob out of the McLennan County Courthouse to a nearby tree
where he was mutilated and dangled by a chain over a fire.
City and county officials stood by and watched the spectacle. Famed
commercial photographer Fred Gildersleeve shot the event with a box camera
so he could sell postcards of the lynching.
Instead, the Gildersleeve photograph of the smoldering corpse surrounded
by thousands of on-lookers, both white and black, became one of the most
famous lynching images ever, spurring anti-lynching campaigns and
tarnishing Waco's reputation as "the Athens of Texas."
While a large print of the photograph was passed from pew to pew for close
examination, Bernstein told her audience she found the photographer's act
of casually shooting the lynching disgusting, "but thank God he did,
because we have the evidence today."
She also faulted generations of Wacoans for discouraging talk of the
incident and described as "insulting" local county commissioners who in
2002 shunned a proposal to install an explanatory plaque beside a
courthouse painting of Waco history that includes a tree with a noose.
Bernstein voiced particular interest in the reaction of current-day
Wacoans to the Washington lynching, including whether any felt the need
for some sort of memorial. Reactions were mixed.
Charli Budd, a white woman who said she had long lived in Waco, expressed
astonishment at the factors that led thousands of Central Texans to rally
in downtown Waco to witness such an event.
"I would much rather try to understand that aspect of it than commemorate
it," she told the audience.
McLennan Community College history teacher Ashley Cruseturner, a white who
has lived in Waco about a decade, said he thought any dialogue about
erecting a monument "would probably be more important than the monument
Others pressed more aggressively for the monument, including Mary Darden,
a white who has lived in Waco nearly a quarter-century. She suggested the
two congregations work together for a monument, possibly in conjunction
with local historical authorities.
"I think there's a power of exorcism in doing things like that," she said.
Michael Babers, a 36-year-old black who teaches 6th-grade students in the
La Vega Independent School District, said the monument struck him as
crucial, if only because it might spur residents to acknowledge the
lynching and embrace the change vital to prevent such events.
"As an African-American, I embrace it because I love Waco ... and I don't
ever want to see this happen again," he said.
(source: Waco Tribune-Herald)
Ban on juvenile executions passes----Bill goes to Guinn, but 6 senators
vote in dissent with U.S. Supreme Court ruling
Despite a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling prohibiting the execution of
juveniles, 6 of 21 senators voted against a bill Thursday outlawing the
practice in Nevada.
"When the courts legislate from the bench, then we have a problem," said
Sen. Maurice Washington, R-Sparks. "I think it is sending the wrong
The 15-6 vote on Assembly Bill 6 sends the bill to Gov. Kenny Guinn. It
abolishes the death penalty for 1st-degree murder committed by someone
under age 18. It earlier passed the Assembly 41-1.
Nevada law allows capital punishment for someone who committed murder at
age 16 or 17. Efforts to repeal the provision in past sessions of the
Legislature failed, but the Supreme Court ruling made that decision for
Even so, some lawmakers objected to the decision during a nearly 30-minute
debate on an issue that is essentially moot.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said he agreed with the
minority justices in the 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision, who objected
that the majority opinion was based on international law. But Raggio said
he would vote for the bill because the March 1 court ruling made it the
law of the land.
"American law should not be bent to conform to the law of the rest of the
world," said Raggio, a former Washoe County district attorney.
Juveniles in some cases are as aware of their actions as adults, he said.
"The reason that it is disturbing to me that we have to adopt this now as
our law is because it's hard to tell families and friends their family
member is less dead, less mutilated, less of a loss and that the penalty
should be less severe because that juvenile lacks maturity," Raggio said.
"I submit that this is one step further along the road to do away with the
death penalty altogether.
"I agree with the majority of Americans that the death penalty still has a
But Sen. Bob Coffin, D-Las Vegas, who suffered a nearly lethal beating in
1963 by current death row inmate Pat McKenna, argued for the measure
despite the fact that his wife's sister suffered a nearly fatal stabbing
by a 17-year-old in 1993.
Coffin said he followed the court case of the man who stabbed his
sister-in-law, and objected to parole but eventually changed his mind
based on studies regarding the mental development of juveniles.
McKenna was 17 when he and his gang beat Coffin, but he did not commit
murder until he was much older, the lawmaker said. McKenna deserves
execution, Coffin said.
"I eagerly await the time he receives his lethal injection," he said.
But in the case of the stabbing, Coffin said in February that he testified
in support of the man's parole so he could be released under supervision.
He was going to be released in a couple of years anyway, he said.
"12 years ago I wanted him dead," Coffin said. "Now I want him to lead a
The Supreme Court ruling affected one Nevada death row inmate.
Michael Domingues was 16 when he killed a woman and her 4-year-old son
during a robbery in Las Vegas in 1993.
Domingues was sentenced to death in 1994. He now faces life in prison
(source: Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death penalty before Las Vegas jury in quadruple slaying
Defense lawyers are asking a Clark County jury to reject the death penalty
for Donte Johnson, citing his troubled life growing up in South Central
But prosecutors say it wasn't Johnson's upbringing that put a gun in his
hand in a quadruple slaying in a Las Vegas home in August 1998.
Johnson's 25. He was convicted in 2000, and emotions are running high in a
Clark County courtroom where a jury's considering whether to impose the
A panel of 3 judges previously sentenced Johnson to death. But that
sentence was overturned after the U-S Supreme Court ruled juries should
make such decisions.
Killed were 20-year-old Tracey Gorringe, 19-year-olds Jeffrey Biddle and
Matthew Mowen, and 17-year-old Peter Talamantez.
They were bound with duct tape and shot in a robbery that authorities say
got Johnson and 2 accomplices a couple hundred dollars, a video game
player, a pager and a V-C-R.
(source: Associated Press)
Romney files death penalty bill----Measure sets out tight restrictions
Governor Mitt Romney yesterday filed a long-awaited bill to reinstate the
death penalty in Massachusetts for deadly acts of terrorism, killing
sprees, murders involving torture, and the killing of law enforcement
The bill, which Romney called "a model for the nation" and the "gold
standard" for capital punishment legislation, draws entirely from the
findings of a special commission that set out 10 recommendations last
year. That panel sought to design a virtually "foolproof" death penalty
law by relying on verifiable science and tougher legal safeguards.
The bill lays out a set of hurdles for meting out capital punishment
sentences, in an effort to neutralize problems that have led to dozens of
death-row exonerations across the nation in recent years. The measure
calls for verifiable scientific evidence such as DNA to sentence someone
to death and a tougher standard of "no doubt" of guilt for juries to
sentence defendants, rather than a "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard.
It also calls for a pool of certified capital case lawyers to ensure
proper representation for the indigent and allowing jurors to serve in the
guilt phase of the trial who do not necessarily support the death penalty.
"Of course, there are always extreme circumstances one can envision,"
Romney said, acknowledging that provisions in the bill would not
absolutely rule out wrongful convictions. But Romney said his main
responsibility "is to protect the safety of our citizens."
"We believe that the best way to do that is by adopting this very rigorous
and very narrow standard for applying the death penalty," he said.
The prospects for the Romney bill appear bleak. It met immediate
resistance from death penalty opponents and several Democrats in the
Legislature, which has defeated a host of bills to reinstate capital
punishment since it was abolished by the state Supreme Judicial Court in
Massachusetts is one of 14 states that either have no capital punishment
law or had their law abolished by state high courts, which happened in
Kansas and New York last year. A 15th state, Illinois, placed a moratorium
on executions in 2000 because of a series of death-row exonerations.
While some fellow Republicans and at least one prominent Democratic
lawmaker, Ways and Means vice chairman James E. Vallee, expressed support
for Romney's bill yesterday, both state Senate President Robert E.
Travaglini and House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi are outspoken opponents
of the death penalty, and Travaglini spokeswoman Ann Dufresne yesterday
said "the Senate president doesn't believe there's much of an appetite in
the Senate for this bill."
"Anybody who thinks that this is a foolproof, gold standard bill is being
misled," added Representative David, who served 14 years as a prosecutor
in the Middlesex district attorney's office and worked on 25 murder cases.
"It casts a broad sweep across a wide spectrum of the criminal justice
system, and a lot of people could conceivably be put to death under this
bill who are innocent."
The closest House vote on the issue came in 1997, when a bill to reinstate
the death penalty deadlocked on a tie vote. A capital punishment measure
failed in the House by 34 votes in 2001. A University of Massachusetts
poll in 2003 indicated that those surveyed supported the death penalty by
a 54-to-45 margin, but a majority also doubted Romney could craft a
foolproof death penalty statute.
Despite the high level of opposition, Romney said he hopes the measure
will receive "a full and fair hearing" in the Legislature. Romney has been
a supporter of the death penalty in certain cases at least since he ran
for US Senate in 1994.
Even if the bill's future is in question, the Romney measure could bolster
the governor's standing among conservatives nationally as he tests the
waters for a run for the White House in 2008. Meanwhile, the 2 men likely
to vie for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Massachusetts in
2006, Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly and former assistant US attorney
general Deval Patrick, criticized the bill yesterday.
Reilly, who supports the death penalty, said he cannot back Romney's bill
because the state's crime laboratory, medical examiner's office, and
municipal police departments are underfunded and thus incapable of
providing the kind of airtight conditions the governor's bill envisions.
Pointing to the pace of the three-year investigation of the Christa
Worthington murder case on Cape Cod, Reilly said: "At this point, without
the infrastructure in place, I think we have greater priorities in public
safety and housing and jobs. Let's get real."
Patrick, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate who served as head of
civil rights in the Clinton administration's Justice Department, decried
"The death penalty can never be made foolproof, it is not a deterrent, and
the huge costs incurred in capital proceedings divert resources away from
actually fighting and prosecuting crime," Patrick said in a statement.
Romney, addressing questions about the state's ability to fund and
prosecute expensive capital cases, said he has backed efforts to beef up
the State Police crime lab and "expand the capacity to use modern science"
in the courtroom. But even without a vast infusion of cash into the lab
and medical examiner's office, he said, the safeguards built into his bill
would prevent anyone from being wrongfully convicted.
Under the Romney bill, defendants younger than 18 and mentally impaired
defendants would not be subject to the death penalty. Those found guilty
and sentenced to death would die by lethal injection, said Shawn Feddeman,
Romney's press secretary.
The commission that laid out the plan said the jury should find that there
is "conclusive evidence" reaching a "high level of scientific certainty"
linking the defendant to the crime scene, the murder weapon, or the
victim's body before a death sentence could be imposed. In addition to DNA
evidence, the commission said other evidence could include footwear
impressions, fingerprints, ballistics, and photographs.
State Senator Dianne Wilkerson, who sponsored a bill signed into law last
year to compensate those wrongly convicted of felonies, said she worries
that the bill would create a 2-tiered system of justice because those
convicted with scientific evidence such as DNA could be subject to the
death penalty, while those convicted of the same crime without such
evidence would face life behind bars.
The measure appears following several high-profile cases in which judges,
court officers, and policemen were killed or wounded, cases that Romney
says should result in a death penalty if they ever happen in
Massachusetts. Romney cited the case last month of a Georgia rape
defendant who allegedly took a court officer's gun and killed a judge and
2 other people as a prime example of why such a law is needed here.
But Representative Michael Festa, a Democrat who plans to run for
Middlesex district attorney in 2006, said the case only highlights how
capital punishment laws offer little deterrent value.
"Georgia is a death penalty state," Festa said. "The man who committed
that crime was not at all deterred by that state's death penalty statute."
In addition to opposition lawmakers, several organizations came out
yesterday to state their objections to Romney's bill, including Amnesty
International, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Massachusetts
Catholic Conference, the lobbying arm of the state's 4 Roman Catholic
(source: Berkshire Eagle)
Romney files death penalty bill requiring strict burden of proof
Gov. Mitt Romney filed legislation yesterday that would reinstate the
death penalty in Massachusetts for "the most heinous of crimes" as long as
guilt is corroborated by hard scientific evidence.
Romney said the plan could be a national model and described it as the
"gold standard for the death penalty in the modern age." The governor said
he hoped the narrow criteria for death penalty defendants and the strict
scientific burden of proof will convince lawmakers previously on the
"After seeing all the safeguards in this legislation, I believe the people
of Massachusetts will have full confidence in the fairness of this
legislation," Romney said.
Before the death penalty could be imposed, for example, conclusive
scientific evidence, such as DNA, must link the defendant to the crime
scene, the murder weapon or the victim's body.
But death penalty opponents wasted no time criticizing the plan, saying
Romney's legislation cannot guarantee that an innocent person will not be
put to death. Democratic leaders said the plan has no hope in the House,
and the Democratic Party accused Romney of filing the bill for political
"I'm convinced this is not going to pass," said Rep. Byron Rushing,
D-Boston, a top lieutenant under House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi.
"More and more of my colleagues are convinced that we do not need to be
distracted when it comes to public safety in this state, and that our
resources, which are becoming more and more limited, should be directed to
prevention and swift prosecution of all criminals," Rushing said.
Romney filed the bill yesterday, and it will be referred to a legislative
committee for a hearing and possible debate on the floor.
The Legislature has not debated the death penalty in years, as it became
apparent that support in the House and Senate has waned.
The House came within one vote of passing the law in 1997, but it was
defeated by a vote of 80-73 in 1999. The margin was even broader in 2001
when the House defeated an attempt to reinstate the death penalty, 94-60.
The Senate has approved the measure in the past, the last time in 1999 by
a vote of 21-16.
Last execution in 1947
Massachusetts abolished the death penalty in 1984; the last execution here
was in 1947.
Even death penalty supporters think there is little hope for the bill in
"I think it will fail," said Rep. William Greene, D-Billerica. "I don't
know that it will even get out of committee."
But Romney said he plans to work with the Legislature to get the bill
passed. He noted that Massachusetts is one of 12 states in the nation that
does not have a capital punishment sentencing option.
Under Romney's plan, there are four categories of defendants, those he
described as the "worst of the worst," who would qualify for the death
- When murder is the act of a terrorist.
- Multiple murders, such as a killing rampage.
- Instances in which the victim is tortured and then murdered.
- The murder of law enforcement officials, including judges, police
officers and witnesses.
"The message we're trying to send to the people of Massachusetts who think
about crime is very clear: If you commit a heinous crime of this nature,
the ultimate price will have to be paid by you," Romney said.
The bill also has legal safeguards: In addition to providing evidence that
directly links the defendant to the crime scene, murder weapon or victim's
body, an independent scientific review of the evidence would have to be
completed before any capital sentence were carried out.
"Just as science can free the innocent, it can also identify the guilty,"
But opponents said it's misleading of Romney to promise a foolproof
process when even scientific evidence can be tainted.
Rep. David Linsky, D-Natick, a former prosecutor with the Middlesex
district attorney's office, said errors will still be made, and innocent
defendants will still be at risk of being wrongly convicted.
"The thought that DNA evidence is a panacea is just completely and 100
percent wrong," Linsky said. "DNA evidence and scientific evidence is only
as good as the human being who is collecting evidence or who is analyzing
the evidence in the laboratory. Anyone who thinks this is a foolproof gold
standard bill is being misled gravely."
Rep. Michael Festa, D-Melrose, raised concerns about the number of
defendants who would qualify. Though Romney said it would be limited,
Festa said the inclusion of victims who are tortured could mean dozens of
cases if rape is considered torture.
Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey said torture would be defined as pain deliberately
inflicted over a long period of time while the victim is conscious. She
said rape could be considered.
Other components of the bill call for establishing a first-in-the-nation
"no doubt" standard for juries. Before imposing the death penalty, jurors
must not only believe in guilt beyond reasonable doubt, but have no doubt
about the defendant's guilt.
If a jury cannot decide whether to impose a death sentence, the court will
dismiss the jury and issue a sentence of life in prison without the
possibility of parole.
Romney said he is filing the bill to protect the residents of the
commonwealth. However, Democrats contend he's trying to win points among
the nation's Republicans as he considers a bid for the White House in 4
years. Romney says he's running for re-election.
(source: Boston Globe)
Govs death crusade: Foes battle over capital punishment
Gov. Mitt Romney wants to march Bay State killers to the death chamber for
the 1st time in nearly 8 decades - using "foolproof" science to ensure
only the guilty die - but met staunch opposition as he took the 1st step.
Almost immediately after filing a new death penalty bill, Romney was
lambasted by Democrats from Attorney General Tom Reilly to Mayor Thomas M.
Menino for political grandstanding.
"DNA evidence in murder cases is lagging in the lab for years because of
the lack of resources," Reilly said, adding that crucial testing of rape
evidence "can't even get processed on time."
Menino, an outspoken death-penalty critic, said, "Why don't we talk about
using any resources we have for intervention and prevention before we get
to the DNA and the death penalty."
Romney's bill, narrowly tailored to apply to the "worst of the worst"
offenders, would apply only in murder cases involving terrorism, torture,
killing sprees, or judges or cops. Killers under 18 would be exempt.
The governor's blunt message: "If you commit a heinous crime of this
nature, the ultimate price will have to be paid by you."
The bill requires DNA and other scientific evidence to be reviewed by an
independent commission before a killer would executed, with lethal
injection replacing the electric chair as the instrument of death. But the
governor's death penalty push was seen by critics as a blatant attempt to
bolster his sagging poll numbers at home, and appeal to a nationwide
audience of conservative Republicans with an eye toward the 2008 White
'Mitt Romney is flailing about in his unceasing effort to appeal to the
right wing of the national Republican Party," state Democratic Party
Chairman Phil Johnston said.'
But Romney did win some bipartisan support right out of the gate. Rep.
James Vallee (D-Franklin), a former prosecutor, praised the DNA
"This is a cutting-edge piece of legislation," Vallee said. "If there is
any (death penalty) legislation that we can embrace it will be this
Senate President Robert E. Travaglini (D-East Boston) vowed Romney's death
penalty bill will get a hearing - but said the prospects for support among
lawmakers are slim. Like Travaglini, House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi
(D-Boston) has also stated his opposition to the death penalty.
In 1997, outrage over the brutal murder of 10-year-old Jeffrey Curley
nearly restored the death penalty in Massachusetts, but the bill died in a
tie vote in the House. 2 subsequent efforts have also failed.
Massachusetts is one of a dozen states without a death penalty, having its
last execution in 1947.
(source: Boston Herald)
Lawyer takes Ross case back to Supreme Court
An attorney appointed to argue that serial killer Michael Ross is mentally
incompetent took the case back to the state Supreme Court Thursday in an
effort to stop New England's 1st execution in 45 years.
Hartford attorney Thomas Groark filed an appeal of last week's ruling by
New London Superior Court Judge Patrick Clifford, who has twice found Ross
competent to voluntarily accept his death sentence.
Groark on Thursday asked Clifford to postpone Ross' scheduled May 11
execution until the high court has decided his appeal. Clifford did not
immediately rule on that request, and the Supreme Court did not indicate
whether it will take up the appeal.
Ross' attorney, T.R. Paulding, said he believes the court has enough time
to decide the case without stopping preparations for the lethal injection.
"If we clear this hurdle with the Supreme Court, it certainly seems that
there is a strong likelihood that May 11 will really happen," he said.
Ross, 45, has admitted killing eight young women in Connecticut and New
York in the early 1980s and raping most of them.
Last year, he fired his public defenders and asked for an execution date
to be set.
He was found competent in December after a hearing - a ruling upheld by
the high court - and came within hours of death in January.
But under pressure from a federal judge, Paulding stopped the execution to
allow another investigation of Ross' mental state.
Since both Paulding and prosecutors had been seeking to expedite the
execution, Clifford appointed Groark as a special counsel to argue that
Ross is mentally incompetent.
During a 6-day hearing earlier this month, Groark put two psychiatrists on
the stand who said Ross suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder
that forces him to make decisions that make him look good publicly. They
testified that Ross is incapable of choosing to live because looking
cowardly would be a blow to his ego.
2 other psychiatrists, including the doctor who had found Ross competent
in December, said Ross' problems do not rise to level of incompetence.
They accepted Ross' explanation that he decided to forgo further appeals
because he does not want to force his victims' families to endure years of
additional court battles and media coverage.
Clifford said he found that testimony to be more persuasive.
In his appeal, Groark argues it was not.
"In light of the evidence before it, the trial court erred in concluding
that Michael Ross' decision to waive his right to seek post-conviction
relief was voluntary," he wrote.
Groark also argues that Clifford improperly dismissed the testimony of
others, including Ross' father and fiance.
Dee, who said they also believe the serial killer is volunteering to die
in an effort to appear noble.
"Just because they are anti-death penalty, doesn't mean they are getting
on the stand and lying," said Antonio Ponvert III, an attorney for Ross'
father, Dan. "I think Judge Clifford should have been recused from this
process. I think everyone involved in the 1st competency hearing was
tainted by it."
Attorneys in the case have said it's unclear whether Groark has standing
to appeal Clifford's ruling. As special counsel, he was appointed by
Clifford but it was never clear whether he can argue an appeal.
"That's the question that needs to be answered," Chief State's Attorney
Christopher Morano said. "He has to show that he's a party. That's going
to be his burden to make, and we'll respond."
Morano would not say whether her believes Groark has standing to appeal.
"That's a matter we're going to discuss in court," he said.
Of the 6 New England states, only Connecticut and New Hampshire have the
death penalty. No one is on New Hampshire's death row and the state has
not executed anyone since 1939. Rhode Island has not put anyone to death
since 1845; Maine, 1885; Massachusetts, 1947; and Vermont, 1954.
(source: Associated Press)
Appeal Filed To Halt Ross Execution----Special Counsel Says Judge May Have
Erred In Competency Ruling
Serial killer Michael Ross again finds himself in a unique position two
private attorneys working for free and arguing opposite fates for their
Special counsel Thomas Groark Jr. filed an appeal Thursday to halt Ross'
execution and save his client's life. Ross' attorney, T.R. Paulding Jr.,
is defending his client's right to forgo his appeals and proceed to his
May 11 execution.
Judge Patrick Clifford ruled last week that Ross is competent and is
voluntarily waiving his right to appeals.
Clifford's decision came a week after a 6-day competency hearing that he
ordered after Paulding filed a motion Jan. 31 to stay Ross' execution and
reopen the competency hearing. By that time, Ross' execution had been
postponed 5 times.
Paulding made the request after U.S. District Judge Robert Chatigny had
threatened to take his law license if Chatigny found that Paulding had not
adequately explored his client's state of mind.
Groark's appointment enabled Paulding to stay on the case and argue that
his client is competent while Groark took the opposing position.
Groark now is asking the state Supreme Court to examine whether Clifford
erred when he found Ross competent.
"In light of the evidence before it, did the trial court err in concluding
that Michael Ross' decision to waive his right to seek post-conviction
relief was voluntary?" Groark wrote.
Attorneys in the case said it was unclear whether Groark has standing to
appeal the ruling. As special counsel, he was appointed only to argue the
issue of competency. It is unclear whether that appointment will carry
forward into the appellate process.
"The Supreme Court will have to decide it," New London County State's
Attorney Kevin Kane said.
Groark would not comment on the appeal. But in addition to filing the
appeal, he also filed a writ of error, which could allow him to plead his
case to the high court as an aggrieved party.
Groark wants the high court to determine whether the lower court erred
when it concluded that Ross did not suffer from a mental disease that
substantially affected his ability to make rational choices.
He also wants the Supreme Court to determine whether Clifford erred when
he found the testimony of Paulding and the state's psychiatrist more
persuasive than the testimony of his psychiatrists.
Four psychiatrists took the witness stand during the competency hearing.
Two found Ross competent, 2 did not.
Groark introduced the testimony of Drs. Stuart Grassian and Eric
Goldsmith, who argued that Ross suffers from narcissism, a personality
disorder that causes him to have a grandiose sense of self, an inability
to have empathy and bouts of depression. The mental disease prevents Ross
from making a competent decision, they argued.
The doctors also said the harsh conditions of death row have contributed
to Ross' decision to proceed with the execution.
But Drs. Michael Norko and Suzanne Gentile both said Ross is making a
rational decision. He has weighed the pros and cons of that decision - an
action that only a competent person can make, they said.
The doctors said Ross' decision not to pursue his appeals because he wants
to spare the victims' families from further pain is logical and not being
made because he wants to commit suicide. They found that his narcissism
was under control and was not the catalyst for his decision.
In a written statement, Paulding said Thursday that he reviewed the
filings and discussed them with Ross. Paulding said he was not surprised
that Groark appealed Clifford's ruling.
"Mr. Ross is hopeful that there will be a speedy resolution of this appeal
so that the questions about his competence can be put to rest," Paulding
said. "He remains unwavering in his commitment to sparing the families of
his victims any more needless delays and is hopeful that the process of
closure may finally begin on May 11."
Ross was sentenced to death for the kidnapping and murder of Leslie
Shelley and April Brunais, both 14, Robin Stavinsky, 19, and Wendy
Baribeault, 17, the last 3 of whom he raped. He was given 2 life sentences
for the rapes and murders of 2 other young women in Windham County.
(soure: The Day)
More information about the DeathPenalty