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Ross execution postponed pending competency hearings

[JURIST] Wednesday's scheduled execution of convicted mass murderer Michael Ross [About.com profile] was postponed indefinitely Monday by order of District Judge Robert N. Chatigny, so that Chatigny can hear arguments on Ross' mental capacity. Had the execution by lethal injection gone ahead, Ross would have become to first person put to death in New England in 45 years. Chatigny said he wanted to hear from experts on what effect twenty years of incarceration has had on Ross' ability to truly volunteer to be executed. The Connecticut Public Defender's office, who has been representing Ross for 17 years, contends that Ross is mentally incompetent, and thus may not be executed. Ross, who has admitted to raping and killing eight women in Connecticut and New York in the 1980s, indicated in October that he wanted to forgo all further appeals and proceed to his execution. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has never passed judgment on the constitutionality of Connecticut's death penalty scheme, and has never had occasion to do so since the Supreme Court ended the moratorium on executions in 1976. The Hartford Courant has the full story here.

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