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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 February, 2005, 01:11 GMT
US killer execution put off again
File photograph of Michael Ross
Ross hopes his death will ease the pain of his victims' families
US officials have again delayed the execution of a serial killer on death row as new evidence emerged suggesting he may be mentally unfit.

Michael Ross murdered eight women aged 14 to 25 in the 1980s. His execution by lethal injection would be the first for 45 years in the state of Connecticut.

But his lawyer filed a motion, seeking a new hearing to assess his competency.

The execution, which had been due to take place on Monday night, has been delayed several times.

Ross last year waived all remaining appeals, saying he wanted to be put to death to give closure to his victims' families.

However, third parties - including his father - have been trying to have his execution delayed on the grounds that he was not competent to waive his appeals.

Additional assessment

"New information was revealed to me that made me question Ross' competency," Ross' lawyer, TR Paulding, said on Monday.

"The last 48 hours have reinforced my belief that the execution of Michael Ross should be delayed to determine whether he is competent."

It also said Ross was "willing to acknowledge that an additional assessment of his competency... is both merited, and necessary, before he is permitted to forgo his appeals and be executed".

The delay means state officials will now have to go back before a state judge and obtain a new death warrant.

'Death row syndrome'

Ross was about 90 minutes from being executed on Saturday morning when Mr Paulding announced he was seeking a postponement because of a possible conflict of interest.

The request apparently came as a result of a phone call from a district court judge, Robert Chatigny, who blocked the execution with a restraining order on 24 January.

Judge Chatigny accused Mr Paulding of not investigating new evidence in the case, including suggestions from another inmate and a retired warden that Ross' decision may have been influenced by his prison conditions.

The phenomenon is sometimes described as "death row syndrome".

Ross spent 17 years fighting against his execution, but recently changed his mind.

He told a prison psychiatrist he hoped his death would ease the pain of his victims' families.



SEE ALSO:
Last-minute stay of US execution
29 Jan 05 |  Americas
The man who wants to be executed
25 Jan 05 |  Americas


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