CLICK THE ABOVE LINKS TO MAKE AN ONLINE CONTRIBUTION TO THE CCADP
Like our site ?    Donate $1 or more...   Every little bit adds up to help support our important work !


Google
 
Web ccadp.org

 
           Return To Michael Ross' Homepage

        WHY I CHOOSE DEATH RATHER THAN TO FIGHT FOR LIFE
                                  By Michael P. Ross #127404

My name is Michael Ross. I am a convicted serial killer who has
murdered eight women in three states. In July of 1987 I received six
death sentences for the murders of several young women in the State of
Connecticut. My death sentences were overturned in July of 1994 by the
Connecticut State Supreme Court, who ruled that my original penalty phase was
flawed and ordered a new capital penalty phase be held to determine whether I
should be resentenced to death or given multiple sentences of life without the
possibility of release (the alternative to the death penalty in this state).

For reasons, which I will try to explain in this article, I decided that I would no
longer fight the imposition of the death penalty in my case. I was forced to fire my
public defenders - who quite understandable opposed my decision - and in early
1995 Judge Purtill in New London Superior Court granted my request to proceed
pro se (as my own counsel). For the past two and a half years,

This case has bounced around from the Superior Court to the Connecticut Supreme
Court and back to the Superior Court level again. During this time T have worked
with C. Robert Satti, Sr., the prosecutor who successfully tried my case and put me
on death row over a decade ago. Mr. Satti, who retired three years ago, is acting as
a Special State's Attorney overseeing the prosecution of my case. While T have
been actively working with Mr. Satti to create a set of stipulations that would result
in my being resentenced to death, Mr. Patrick Culligan, Chief of Trial Services for
the Division of Public Defender Services has been working just as hard in his
position as "Amicus Counsel, (a position designated by Judge Purtill to advise the
court) to prevent any agreement from going forward that would circumvent the
need for a full-blown penalty bearing from taking place.

Few people truly understand why I have chosen to accept the death penalty as
opposed to at least trying to fight for my life. Because T believe that it is very
important for not only the legal system, but the public at large to understand why I
have chosen this unusual path that will lead to my consensual execution T have
decided to write this article. It is my hope, that through this article, I will be able to
help the general public to better understand the motivations and reasoning behind
my actions that have led me to the point that the proceedings are at today.

There is a lot of misinformation floating around about why I have chosen to accept
the death penalty instead of pursuing a new penalty capital sentencing phase and
fighting for my life. I've heard that I am suicidal. I've had my competency
questioned and in fact have undergone a court-ordered competency exam before T
was allowed to dismiss my public defenders and proceed pro se I've heard that I
would prefer to be executed rather than to spend the rest of my natural life in
prison. I've even heard that this is all reverse psychology - that by asking for the
death penalty, I am in fact hoping to receive a life sentence.

My decision to accept the death penalty was not an easy one. The death penalty is
a serious punishment. It is not something to be taken lightly. Indeed, I have done
much soul-searching over the years that I have been confined on death row. And
while I would not recommend this decision to any other death row inmate, I am
convinced that this is the morally right decision for me. I will try to explain.

To begin with, I would like to state for the record that I have no animosity towards
Mr. Culligan and the Public 'Defender's office in general. Given the undisputed
facts, the death penalty is clearly inappropriate in my particular case under the old
capital punishment law that applies to me - a non-weighing law that dictates that the
death penalty cannot be imposed if a single mitigating factor exists. The objection of
the Public Defender's Office to the arranged stipulations between the state and
myself is entirely appropriate given the circumstances of my case. I cannot fault
them for doing what they believe is right - but they must realize that I must do what
I believe is right as well.

Personally, I applaud the public defender's position against capital punishment. I
fully agree with their stance. I myself oppose capital punishment and over the years
that I have been on death row I have authored numerous articles about why I
believe it is wrong for any state or government to judicially execute its citizens for
any reason. By my estimate, the many anti-capital punishment articles that I have
written over the years have been published over 150 times in various books,
magazines, newspapers and newsletters. So I am fully aware of the arguments
made by the Public Defender's Office, and I fully support their position and efforts
to bring about the abolition of capital punishment in this state.

However, the fact remains that, currently, capital punishment is the law in this
state. The fact remains that I have been convicted of capital crimes and that I am in
fact facing a new capital sentencing bearing. And the fact remains that I have
certain decisions to make in regards to that hearing. Now I would like to be clear
that I have no problems with the public defender's opposition to capital punishment
in general. But, I do have a problem when they try to interfere with my personal
decisions regarding negotiations that I have engaged in to resolve this case in a
manner that I believe will barm the least number of people. These are decisions-of
a deeply personal nature that I must wrestle with and resolve on my own. These
are decisions that I and I alone, must make. No one can make these decisions for
me, not the court; not the state's attorney; not the public defender; not my closest
of friends; not even my own family. And while I truly appreciate the concern
shown by Mr. Culligan and the Public Defender's Office for my personal welfare,
they must recognize that I have to make these decisions on my own, without
further interference from them.

Let me state for the record that I have no death wish. I am not suicidal. It is very
frustrating to me that every time the press covers my case I read the- - words
"Michael-Rose wants--to die." Michael Ross does not want to die. Michael Ross I
would gladly accept multiple life sentences to put an end to this ordeal. Michael
Ross would be perfectly content If Mr. Satti could see his way to end these
proceedings now by dropping his pursuit of the death penalty and would allow the
court to sentence me to prison for the rest of my natural life. 'But Michael Ross is
also a realist, and knows that is not about to happen.

So here I am facing a new penalty hearing in which I know that Mr. Satti will do
anything and everything to obtain new death sentences - it is his job. As far as I am
concerned, the only relevant issue in my case now, as it has been since this case
began a decade and a half ago, is whether or not I suffer from a mental illness, and
in what way, if any, that mental illness affected my actions during the period that
my crimes took place. If I do in fact suffer from a significant mental illness, that
would be a mandatory statutory factor which, by the capital law, which applies to
my case, would preclude the Imposition of the death penalty in my particular case.
That is what this whole case has been about from the very beginning. This is not a
"who done it?" case - I fully confessed to all of my actions - it is a "why was it
done?" case.

I do not contest the existence of an aggravating factor which the state needs to
prove to impose the death penalty and I have in fact, on numerous occasions,
offered to stipulate that an

aggravating factor does in fact exist (such a stipulation would negate the need for
the state to present evidence to prove its case). -However, Mr. Satti has repeatedly
declined my offer stating that be does not want what he refers to a "cold"
stipulation. Mr. Satti has consistently stated that if our agreement is not allowed to
go forward that he will insist on a jury trial. At that trial, he will introduce the
hot-blooded, grossly disturbing facts and evidence in an attempt to enrage the jury's
passions into ignoring any evidence of psychological impairment. That is exactly
what be did successfully over a decade ago at my original trial, and I have
absolutely no reason whatsoever to believe that be would act any differently today.
And it is that gory presentation of aggravation, what he presents and how he
presents it, that I am trying to avoid by agreeing to accept the death penalty by
stipulation.

I concede the aggravation. I am willing to stipulate to the aggravation so that it
would not be necessary to present such emotionally disturbing evidence and
testimony. There is no need for such testimony, especially when it could do such
potential harm, not to myself - I deserve whatever I get but to the friends and
families of my victims. They have been hurt enough by my actions in the past.
They should not be needlessly hurt further now.

All I have to do is close my eyes and I can see Mrs. Shelley when she testified at
my previous trial about the last contact that she had with her daughter. It remains
very vivid, even though it happened over a decade ago. I can still see her tears. I
can still hear the pain in her voice - pain that I caused. I can close my eyes and still
vividly see the path and the agony on the face and in the voice of Mrs. sSavin6ky
as she testified how on-that Thanksgiving Day she had to go to the morgue to
identify her daughter's body. "She was hurt bad," she said as she cried, "She was
hurt real bad." All that I have to do is close my eyes, and I can see the other family
members as they testified - I cannot make it go away. I can see and remember their
pain. I don't want them or any other friends or relatives, to have to go through the
pain and distress of such testimony again. I don't want them to once again have to
view the crime scene photographs depicting their daughter's decomposing bodies. I
don't want them to have to view the morgue photographs again. I don't want them
to hear yet again the awful details of how I sadistically brutalized and murdered
their daughters. I don't want them to have to relive all over again the past,
especially in such excruciating detail that would be inherent in the evidence and
testimony produced during the aggravating portion of the penalty phase. It is not
necessary it is totally unnecessary.

I tried to avoid that by asking the court to bold a special hearing to determine
whether or not the mitigating factor of a significant mental illness did in fact exist, as
a matter of law. Such a bearing would have involved both sides bringing in their
expert psychiatric witnesses to present evidence and argue their perspective
positions. If the court had agreed, and I was able to successfully prove that the
statutory mitigating factor of a significant mental illness did in fact exist, the court
would have been required to sentence me to multiple life sentences then and there,
and I would have, achieved my goal of preventing another full-blown penalty
hearing, but that did not happen.

To this date I cannot understand why the court refused to hold the special hearing
that I requested. The existence of my mental illness is well documented and not
refuted by any psychiatric experts. As an amicus (friend of the court) brief filed in
my state appeal put it: "It is not often that the defense and prosecution psychiatric
experts in a contested proceeding agree on both a diagnosis and its ramifications.
This is just such an unusual case."

I was sentenced to death by a jury because the state's attorney had mocked the
defense psychiatric witnesses as both hired guns and incompetent fools, while at the
same time biding the, fact from the jury that his own expert concurred with the
defense experts. The Connecticut State Supreme Court agreed with this assessment
and overturned my death sentences noting that the state psychiatric expert's "report
corroborated the defense psychiatric experts" opinions that the defendant suffered
from sexual sadism. Not only did this evidence bear directly on the question of
whether, at the time of the offense, the defendant's mental capacity was
significantly impaired, so as to warrant mitigation, but it could have appeared more
objective and worthy of belief than evidence adduced by the defendant from his
own expert witnesses, And they further concluded "that the improper exclusion of
this unique evidence was more likely than not to have affected the result of the
sentencing hearing." Why they did not

just impose multiple life (without the possibility of release) sentences is beyond me
- it would have saved the state the thousands of dollars that it has spent in the last
three years of court hearings since my death sentences' were overturned.

My only other option to avoid another full-blown penalty hearing was to enter into
an agreement with the state's attorney. It was an agreement that I came up with,
because it was the only thing that I could think of. The agreement is simple and
straightforward. I give the state the death penalty on a silver platter, and the state
agrees to not present its case of aggravation. The state gets what it wants - the
death penalty. And I get what I want - the opportunity to do what I believe is the
right and moral thing to do. I certainly understand the opposition of the Public
Defender's Office and other capital punishment abolitionists to this agreement. It is
certainly a deal with the devil 'himself. I believe that I have every right to enter into
such an agreement. It is my decision, and a decision that no one else but I can
make. And it is a decision to which I am fully committed.

I think that at this point I should note for the record that if the court does not allow
the agreement between the state and myself to go forward, and does indeed force a
full-blown penalty hearing to take place, that I fully intend to present a case for
mitigation in an attempt to avoid the death penalty. My sole desire here is to spare
the families of my victims further pain and emotional suffering. And I am willing to
forego my right to the presentation of mitigating evidence and accept the death
penalty in order to achieve that goal. In my particular case, I do not believe that the
comparative advantage of a life sentence is worth the emotional distress that the
families of my victims would be subjected to during the aggravating portion of a
full-blown penalty hearing,., That is my own personal belief and personal desire to
spare them further unnecessary emotional pain. I however, should the state for
whatever reason, either on its own or at the direction of the court, present its case
of aggravation, then the damage will have been done. In that event, no purpose will
be served by my not fighting for my life and, in that event, I would present a full
and spirited case for mitigation and I will succeed in avoiding the death penalty (I
have absolutely no doubt of this whatsoever). As I have previously stated, I have
no death wish. I do not look forward to that day when I will be strapped to a
gurney and put to sleep like some rabid dog. In fact, the very thought of that day
coming angers me. I am not an animal. I have committed horrific crimes, but only
when I was under the control of a mental illness. That monster lives in my head
and it will always be there, somewhere hidden away in my mind. But that monster
is not me. I was never really sure of that, even during my original trial, because that
monster in my mind was so intertwined with who I was that even I had trouble
making the distinction between it and me. It was only about three years after I went
to death row, after I finally received approval for my medication - first weekly
injections of Depo-Provera, and now monthly injections of Depo-Lupron that the
monster in my mind started to lose its power and control over me and I was finally
able to begin to see what it really was; who I really was; and what the difference
was between that monster and myself.

I wish that I could plug you into my head. I wish that I could plug ever person who
wishes to see me executed into my head. Then you all could see what I see. Then
you would know what I know. Then you would see it as I do. You would then be
able to see and know the monster. And most importantly, you would then see that
it is not me. You would then see that we are truly separate and distinct entities. But
that can't happen. I can't plug you, or anyone else, into my head. So you are unable
to see what I see, know what I know. And you are unable to understand who I am
and what it is; you are unable to distinguish between the two of us.

You are equally unable to understand the amazing and radical transformation that I
have undergone since I started to receive my medication in prison. My medication
is nothing less than a miracle to me - a blessing sent by God. And I am extremely
grateful to all those individuals who fought on my behalf to help me get approval
for my medication. Chemical castration is a very controversial subject right now
and most people don't really understand what it actually does. Personally, I don't
know if it can help every sex offender, but, without a doubt, it has helped me.

I have learned much about myself since receiving my medication. And I can see
things much more clearly now. For years my mind was clouded. It was cluttered
with the self-centered thoughts generated by my sickness. After I started to receive
my medication my mind began to clear. I began to see things as they really were.
Previously my world was viewed through the colored glasses of my mental illness.
Put once on my medication the fog began to dissipate and light began to illuminate
the dark shadows of my mind-. It was, and still is very difficult. For I began to be
aware of many disturbing things that brought me great anguish and despair.

For the first time I saw the monster for what it really was. I slowly understood how
I had allowed that monster in my mind to take control of me. I saw what it had
turned me into. I saw what I had become. This wasn't an easy realization, and it
took me years to accept. And it took me even longer to accept that, despite my
mental Illness, I was still ultimately completely responsible for what happened. That
I was still responsible for allowing it to control me. That I should have fought back
harder; should have been stronger. That I should have done whatever was
necessary to stop it. That I should have taken my own life before I allowed it to
take the lives of others. I had considered suicide on numerous occasions when I
was a student at Cornell University, when the horror was just beginning and the
monster was not yet fully developed. But I lacked the courage. I just couldn't do it
because I wasn't strong enough. I would go to a particular bridge and stare into one
of Cornell's famous gorges, but I could never bring myself to jump. I was a
coward. My greatest guilt lies in the knowledge that because I did not have the
courage to take my own life, that ultimately eight totally innocent women paid with
theirs. It took me a very long time to accept that responsibility. And it is a
responsibility that weighs heavily upon my mind.

But that was only the beginning of my responsibilities. I began to see things that
happened during my trial, but that I was truly unable t o fully comprehend at the
time because my mind was so full of other garbage; so self-centered on the needs
created by the monster inside of my mind which still dominated me. I am so
ashamed of the lack of caring and the insensitivity that I openly displayed during
my original trial. I saw the pain around me, but I couldn't feel it; I couldn't react to
it; and I couldn't accept responsibility for it.

It took a long time for me to begin to feel the pain that I have caused others to feel.
It took a long time before I could understand the agony; the distress; the anger; and
the sense of loss that my past actions have caused. I apologize to those who I have
harmed. I am so sorry. I know that those words don't mean much "I'm sorry." The
words sound so inadequate, almost insulting given the enormity of my actions. For
years I have wanted to publicly say those words, but I was afraid to. I was afraid of
making things worse. I am still very much afraid that my words will be taken
wrongly, that they will cause more pain, more anger, and more hatred. I wish that I
had better words to say, but though I have struggled to find them, I have failed and
cannot think of any. It is my deepest hope that those who I have hurt will be able to
take these words for what they are truly meant to be A sincere, albeit inadequate
apology.

I wish that I could bring back the women that I have killed. I wish that I could trade
my life for theirs - if that were possible I would have done so long ago. I wish that I
could undo all of the pain and suffering that I have caused. But I can't. As much as
I hate it, nothing that I say or do now can bring back the lives that I have taken.
Nothing that I say or do now can even begin to make restitution for my past
actions.

But I can stop further pain. I can't undo the past, but I can try to prevent the
future. I can try to prevent the further infliction of needless emotional pain and
suffering upon the families of my victims. That is my goal today. That is what I
have been fighting for in the legal system for almost three years now. That is why I
originally wrote a letter to Special State's Attorney C. Robert Satti, Sr., three years
ago offering to accept the death penalty rather than go through another penalty
phase. That is why I had to fire the Public Defender's Office when my lawyers', of
over a decade two men who had become my very dear friends, refused to go along
with my proposal. That is why I have represented myself for almost three years
now (all the while knowing and agreeing with the saying "that a man who represents
himself, has a fool for a client"). And that is why I have continued to fight,
undaunted, when everyone, and I mean everyone, said that I wouldn't make it even
this far. That what I was proposing was insane and that no court would ever allow
it to proceed.

And I must tell you that it has not been easy. There have been times when I was
sorely tempted to accept legal counsel, to just sit back and say, the hell with it all,"
and let the lawyers fight it out among themselves. You have no idea what it is like
to stand in a courtroom with your life, and the well being of others, on the line and
pretend to know what the hell you are doing. And perhaps most difficult, it has not
been easy to look into the eyes of my friends - friends who beg me to fight for my
life; friends who believe in me; good friends who I have found to be quite rare and
are very precious to me. Friends who I pray will understand that I am doing what I
must do. That I am doing what I believe is necessary. That I am doing what I
believe is right. And that is why I have decided not to fight for my life and have in
fact been actively fighting for my consensual execution be allowed to proceed. I
hope that what I have written here today will help the reader, and the general public
at large, to better understand my actions and reasoning. But with all due respect, no
one is required to understand the reasoning behind my actions. With all due respect,
no one is required to agree with my reasoning or agree with my actions all that I
require and request from both the legal system and the public at large is that you
acknowledge my right to make such decisions. These are the most fundamental of
decisions - life and death decisions. These are decisions of a deeply personal nature
- affecting my rights of self-determination. You may agree with me, or you may
disagree with me, that is your right as citizens of this country. All I ask is that as I
respect your right to agree or disagree with me, that you will respect my right to
make this the most fundamental of decisions.

I have searched long and hard; looked into the very depths of my motivations;
looked into the very heart of my soul. And I have decided to stand up and to accept
responsibility for my past actions and to accept the consequences of those actions.
These are my choices and choices that only I can make. These choices will not
absolve me of my guilt or allow me to even begin to make restitution for my past -
there is no way, short of the mercy of God himself, that I may be absolved of my
guilt, and there is no way that I could ever possibly make restitution for the pain
and suffering that I have caused. But these choices will, at the very least in my
mind, allow me to begin to restore my personal sense of respect and dignity. I can't
right the past, but I can try to do what is right now. And if I am very lucky, perhaps
sometime in the future - most likely long after my execution - my actions here
today might help someone in their grieving process and hopefully help them to heal
the wounds that I created. If that does In fact happen, it will justify my actions here
today, and will have made all of my efforts of the past three years worthwhile.

Submitted by:
Michael B. Ross #127404
Death Row -- Northern C.I.
P.O. Box #665
Somers, CT 06071
 
           Return To Michael Ross' Homepage

             The CCADP offers free webpages to over 500 Death Row Prisoners
                                               Contact us for more information.
                                                info@ccadp.org
            The Eyes Of The World Are Watching Now
                                                       "The Eyes Of The World Are Watching Now"


This page was last updated April 15, 2001       Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty
info@ccadp.org          This page is maintained and updated by Dave Parkinson and Tracy Lamourie