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Court Upholds Stay of Execution in Conn.

January 25, 2005

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ A federal appeals court agreed Tuesday to postpone the execution of a man convicted of a series of murders in the 1980s.

The three-judge panel dismissed an appeal from state prosecutors to lift a stay issued Monday by U.S. District Judge Robert Chatigny in Hartford, who said he needed time to determine if Michael Ross is competent to waive his own appeals.

Ross last year fired his public defenders and decided to forgo further appeals. He had been scheduled this week to become the first person executed in New England in nearly 45 years.

In its ruling, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that Chatigny must decide whether the state’s public defenders have a right to file motions on Ross’ behalf and urged him to complete the hearing as quickly as possible.

Hubert Santos, the lawyer who argued on behalf of the state’s public defenders, praised Tuesday’s ruling. ``Great result,″ he said.

New London State’s Attorney Kevin Kane said he would appeal immediately to the Supreme Court.

Harry Weller, a supervisory assistant state attorney in Connecticut, added that Ross has a ``constitutional right to make this choice″ to die.

The appeals court ruling came the same day the Connecticut Supreme Court rejected another attempt by the public defenders and Ross’ father to file motions on his behalf. That court ruled that they had failed to show that Michael Ross was incompetent when he decided to accept his death sentence.

Michael Ross, 45, admitted killing eight young women and girls and raping most of them in the early 1980s.

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