Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Michael Bruce Ross: Staring Death in the Face

Died Willingly

Michael Ross enters court
Michael Ross enters court

In August 2001, while his death penalty sentence was pending appeal, Michael was extradited from his death row prison cell in Connecticut to the Sullivan County maximum-security prison in Fallsburg, New York. He was transferred to Orange County to face arraignment in the rape and murder of Paula Perrera. On September 24, 2001, Michael stood before Judge Nicholas DeRosa and pled guilty to the first-degree murder charges. The following month he was sentenced to 8 to 25 years in prison for brutally killing Paula. Surprisingly, Michael expressed relief when the sentence was handed down and was quoted saying, "I regret that this has taken so long to be taken care of," Timothy O'Connor reported in The Times Herald-Record.

Michael managed to evade being charged for the rape and murder of Dzung Ngoc Tu in 1981. James quoted Tompkins County District Attorney George Dentes suggested that it was pointless to seek a conviction against Michael in her murder because he has already been sentenced to death in Connecticut. Besides, Dzung's family in Vietnam has no interest in pursuing the case and would prefer not to relive the pain that has torn their family apart.

Lethal injection table
Lethal injection table

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled to uphold Michael's previous death sentence in May 2004, despite repeated appeals by his lawyers. The following October, an execution date had been set for January 26, 2005. Michael had decided to discontinue his 18-year long appeals process and had instead accepted his fate.

Finally on May 13, 2005, Connecticut granted Michael Ross' request when it carried out its first execution in 45 years. The New York Times reported that "in defiance of public defenders and others who wanted to save him, Michael Bruce Ross chose to forgo further appeals....Ross convinced judges he was competent, smirked at psychiatrists who said he was suicidal and often seemed exasperated by his inability to reshape his image."

 "This was not an act of suicide by Michael Ross," said defense attorney T.R. Paulding, who helped Ross with his appeals. "It was a decision that required courage."

Michael Ross was executed by lethal injection at Osborn Correctional Institution in Somers, CT. Nine members of his victims' families witnessed his final moments. Ross chose not to make any final statement.


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