Michael Ross Execution Of A Connecticut Serial Killer

Michael Ross Connecticut execution

Michael Ross was a serial killer and a serial rapist who would be executed by the State of Connecticut for four murders

According to court documents Michael Ross would murder Robin Dawn Stavinsky (19) who was also sexually assaulted

Michael Ross would murder and sexually assault Wendy Baribeault, 17,

Ross would pick up April Brunias, 14, and Leslie Shelley, 14,. Both girls would be murdered and April was also sexually assaulted

Michael Ross would be arrested and confessed to the four murders and also admitted to four more murders

Michael Ross would be executed by lethal injection on May 13 2005

Michael Ross Victims

Dzung Ngoc Tu, 25, a Cornell University student, murdered by Ross on May 12, 1981.
Paula Perrera, 16, of Wallkill, N.Y., murdered by Ross in March 1982.
Tammy Williams, 17, of Brooklyn, Conn. murdered by Ross on Jan. 5, 1982.
Debra Smith Taylor, 23, of Griswold, murdered by Ross on June 15, 1982.
Robin Stavinksy, 19, of Norwich, murdered by Ross in November 1983.
April Brunias, 14, of Griswold, murdered by Ross on April 22, 1984.
Leslie Shelley, 14, of Griswold, murdered by Ross on April 22, 1984.
Wendy Baribeault, 17, of Griswold, murdered by Ross on June 13, 1984.

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Michael Ross Connecticut execution

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When Was Michael Ross Executed

Michael Ross was executed on May 13 2005

Michael Ross Case

Serial killer Michael Bruce Ross was pronounced dead at 2:25 a.m. today, the first convict executed in New England in 45 years.

In the end, the man described as both monster and manipulator controlled his own fate. He had until 2:01 to call off the execution by saying he wanted to pursue more appeals. He did not, and the series of three lethal drugs coursed through his veins. Osborn Correctional Institution Warden Christine Whidden announced Ross’ death from a podium at 2:28.

Shortly afterward, Gov. M. Jodi Rell said Ross alone is responsible for his fate. “Today is a day no one truly looked forward to – but then no one looked forward to the brutal, heinous deaths of those eight young girls,” Rell said. “I hope that there is at least some measure of relief and closure for their families.” Ross’ body was removed from the prison by Dr. H. Wayne Carver II, the state’s chief medical examiner, and two technicians to do an autopsy.

The ranks of death penalty opponents had swelled to nearly 300 as they marched through the chilled air to the driveway of the prison where Ross was executed. Candlelight highlighted expressions that ranged from tearful to stoic as they learned of Ross’ death by word of mouth rippling through the crowd. Jacob Grossouw, 16 of Enfield, said he was shocked. “I don’t know how to feel. I can’t believe they just killed a man,” he said.

Several family members of Michael Ross’ victims, however, said they were grateful for the execution, and afterward took turns at the podium saying so. Edwin Shelley, father of 14-year-old victim Leslie Shelley, said, “We have waited 21 years for justice, and I would like to thank the jury in Bridgeport, the jury in New London and, finally, the State of Connecticut for finally giving us the justice that our children are due.” Victim Robin Stavinsky’s stepmother, Joan Stavinsky, said she heard the announcement on television about 2:30 a.m. at her home. “I think I’m a little bit numb,” Stavinsky said. “It just doesn’t seem real. You just can’t set aside 22 years of this in one instant.”

Others were more angry than relieved. “I thought I would feel closure, but I felt anger, just watching him lay there and sleep, after what he did to these women, but I’m sure I will feel some closure soon,” said Debbie Dupuis, Robin Stavinsky’s sister. Rell said the execution ends what has been “a protracted ordeal for the entire state, none more so than for the families of the victims, who have suffered for years and still grieve for their lost daughters. It is time to move forward with compassion for all the families who have lost loved ones. It is also appropriate to acknowledge the grief felt by the family of Michael Ross.”

Media witnesses described what appeared to be a shudder, a gasp for air and an otherwise motionless death. Michael Ross, his wrists and fingers wrapped in gauze, said nothing and looked at no one, the witnesses said. Ross said “No, thank you,” when asked if he wished to make a final statement, said Kenton Robinson, an editor at the New London Day.

Shelley Sindland of Fox-61 TV said she heard one female witness, hidden from Sindland by a curtain separating the media from the families of Ross’ victims, mockingly say, “Oh, are you in pain?” when Ross seemed to gasp. Sindland said she heard another man utter, “It’s too peaceful.”

Chief State’s Attorney Christopher Morano said: “Today, with the execution of Michael Ross, there are no winners. The murderous actions he took so many years ago continue to affect his victims’ families to this very day. … It is time to forget Michael Ross, but we should never forget about his victims and we should always embrace their families. Tonight my heart and prayers go out to them. I hope they finally feel a sense of justice.”

Michael Ross’ lawyer, T.R. Paulding, stressed that Ross’ decision “to stop the continuing torture to the families of his victims was a difficult one. It resulted over a period of time, and is directly linked to Michael’s evolving spirituality, compassion and awareness. It was a decision that required courage. In the last few months that courage carried him through the constant urgings of those who would have him change his mind. He was stripped of his dignity through endless court proceedings. In the end, Mr. Ross maintained his dignity.”

But outside the prison walls, a game of legal brinkmanship spanning three federal courts from Connecticut to Washington, D.C., played out until 11 p.m., when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected efforts by two defense lawyers to halt the execution.

Michael Ross was a 25-year-old insurance agent in June 1984 when he confessed to kidnapping, raping and killing young women over a three-year period. His victims ranged in age from 14 to 25. “They were dead as soon as I saw them,” he said in a 1994 interview.

Jennifer Tabor said she never thought she would be able to witness the execution of the man who killed her 19-year-old stepsister, Stavinsky. Tabor was 12 at the time of the murder, and hatched a plan in which she would stand outside the gates of the prison on the morning of Ross’ death. “I always pictured myself out there with the rest of the people, holding a big sign, in favor of his death,” Tabor said. “I always promised Robin I would be there on that day.”

Instead, Tabor arrived in Somers Thursday night as a witness and with her siblings, Debbie Dupuis and David Riquier, represented the second generation of those affected by the murders. They stood in for parents too weary from years of grief to watch the last chapter of their ordeal.

Tabor issued a statement that was a mix of compassion and relief. “We feel sorrow for the Ross family and respect their grief at losing a family member,” she said. “We know that the sadness of losing Robin will always remain, but now the anger caused by Michael Ross’ crimes can begin to fade into a safe place. … We hope the words, thoughts and life of Michael Ross will become a faint memory and the notoriety that surrounded him will finally end.”

Before leaving her home in Columbia with her siblings for the ride to Somers, Tabor said she grabbed a photograph of Robin so she could have it with her in the room where she watched the execution. “I just wanted to have it with me, have her with me,” Tabor said. As they drove up Shaker Road toward the prison, Tabor said, she was amazed at the groups of police officers gathered at every intersection. “There were cops everywhere,” she said. The dozens of checkpoints they went through and a long line of orange traffic cones that glowed from her vehicle’s headlights were “intimidating,” she said. When they arrived at the “safe house” where correction officials had them wait before going to the prison, Tabor saw about 20 people gathered inside. She recognized some faces from court hearings she attended years ago. Others were strangers, she said. “It was real quiet,” she said. “It was like a dream. It didn’t seem real.”

For many, the past five months have seemed similarly surreal. Michael Ross on Oct. 6 told New London Superior Court Judge Patrick Clifford he wanted to waive further appeals and proceed to his execution. Clifford, after questioning Ross at length about his knowledge of appeals still open to him, set Jan. 26 as the execution date.

Before coming into court in October, Michael Ross fired his public defenders and hired Paulding, who had been his standby counsel in the mid-1990s when Ross sought a death sentence rather than undergo a second penalty phase and revisit the gruesome details of his crimes. Ross has said since 1994 that he wanted to spare the families of his victims, and himself, from that torment.

The public defenders who had represented Michael Ross for nearly 17 years fought to intervene on his behalf and halt the execution. What followed was a flurry of legal challenges and appeals that ended only hours before Ross was scheduled to die in late January. And in a bizarre twist worthy of a novel, it was Paulding who called off the execution after a searing telephone conference with a federal judge who threatened his law license and questioned whether Ross was really driven by despair over years of segregated confinement.

Michael Ross’ execution today follows another round of competency hearings, appeals and last-minute legal machinations by lawyers seeking to halt the execution. Attorney Diane Polan represented Ross’ sister, Donna Dunham, in efforts to intervene on behalf of her brother. Antonio Ponvert III sought a temporary restraining order to stop the execution on behalf of inmates susceptible to “suicide contagion” if Ross was allowed to willingly go to his death.

Thursday’s legal drama began around 10:30 a.m., when Droney refused to grant a temporary restraining order and rejected Dunham’s bid to intervene. Her lawyer and Ponvert appealed to the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan. Those appeals were heard at 2:30 p.m., using an elaborate network of video relays connecting three locales: the appeals court in Manhattan, a small conference room equipped with monitors at the Hartford federal courthouse and a similar room in a federal court in Vermont, where Appellate Judge Peter W. Hall resides.

The 2nd Circuit rejected both appeals about 5:30 p.m. Appeals soon followed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and all parties involved in the execution countdown remained on tenterhooks until just after 11 p.m.

Visits consumed most of Ross’ last day. He awoke about 5:45 a.m. and had a breakfast of oatmeal and grapefruit, Department of Correction spokesman Brian Garnett said. Ross watched television and read newspapers until 8:10 a.m., when he was moved to the execution holding cell. It resembles his other open-barred cell at the old death row at Osborn Correction Institution, except that it is encased in Plexiglas, with a circle of holes drilled midway down the front of the door so Ross could communicate back and forth with visitors.

Where formerly Ross could hold hands with visitors, now he could not. Only priests were allowed physical contact, necessary so they could give him the Holy Eucharist, which Ross received at 9 a.m. later he received last rites.

Butler said he and Ross joked Thursday morning about the “Hannibal Lecter death cell,” a reference to the cannibal psychiatrist in the thriller movie “Silence of the Lambs.” Ross lunched on a cheeseburger and hash browns, and at 3 p.m. chose to have as his last meal the same thing all the other inmates at Osborn would be eating for dinner – turkey a la king with rice, mixed vegetables, white bread, fruits and a beverage.

As he ate, protesters were on the last leg of their five-day, 30-mile march from Hartford. Jim Whitten, 32 of Suffield, and Christa Elkovich, 26 of Suffield, were among those showing their support. “Long story short, killing is wrong in any form,” Elkovich said. Rachel Lawler, 20 and a student at St. Michael’s College in Vermont, was in the middle of final exams but said she felt compelled to come down and show her opposition to the death penalty. “It’s hard to believe it’s really happening,” she said. “It’s hard to believe Connecticut is murdering someone.”

Among the protesters who walked two abreast toward the prison was attorney Thomas J. Ullmann, head of public defenders in New Haven County. Ullmann last year prevailed in his defense of Jonathan Mills, a multiple murderer who had faced the death penalty but was instead sentenced by a jury to life without parole in prison. Surrounded by somber protesters, Ullmann said people still could not believe it was happening. “It’s just that they’re shocked this is really happening. To me, as a human being, I feel I have an obligation to be here and help out. We know we’re on the right side of this issue. To say that it’s the law – well, so was slavery at one time. This is another human rights issue and eventually, we will prevail.”

Elizabeth Brancato, 58, of Torrington, whose mother was murdered 26 years ago, walked the entire length of the five-day march. She felt that murder victims’ families who oppose capital punishment had to be represented. She said she sees the execution as state-sponsored homicide. “It feels like we’re all doing it and in fact we are all doing it. It’s not the state as some faceless entity. The state is us. Maybe that’s why I’ve been doing this – to feel less a part of it.”

The last execution in New England occurred in Connecticut on May 17, 1960, when Joseph “Mad Dog” Taborsky was electrocuted for a series of execution-style robberies and murders. Like Ross, Taborsky waived his appeals and opted to be executed.

Victim Wendy Baribeault’s cousin, Robert Baribeault III, expressed relief that Ross was finally being put to death. But he stressed that his cousin’s death will always be a part of his family’s life. “His death will give us some closure, but will never bring back the lives he has taken,” Baribeault said. “There will always be an open wound in the hearts of the families and friends who knew and love these young ladies. To Michael Ross, may you rot in hell.”


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