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S.C. Court OKs Drop of Death Appeal

July 30, 2002

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ The state Supreme Court says a death row inmate is mentally competent to drop his appeals and be executed for burning his 2-year-old daughter to death nearly four years ago.

The court Monday unanimously rejected an appeal filed against Michael Passaro’s wishes by a state-assigned lawyer.

Passaro appeared before the court in May to defend his right not to appeal his sentence, saying, ``I can’t live like this anymore.″

Defense attorney Joe Savitz told the justices that Passaro was seeking ``little more than government-assisted suicide.″

Passaro killed his daughter in 1998 to get back at his estranged wife, Karen, because of a custody dispute. He doused his van with gasoline outside the woman’s Myrtle Beach home and set it ablaze with his daughter, Maggie, strapped inside.

He planned to die in the blaze, too, but jumped out of the van.

An execution date could be set later this year.

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