Can’t believe I missed this story in the Courant today. Michael Ross’ competency hearing is scheduled for Thursday and Friday this week and Judge Clifford has next Monday and Tuesday marked off for it.
For the first time, psychiatric experts will argue at length that the severely restrictive living conditions on death row have rendered Ross so desperate and depressed that he is mentally unstable and incapable of "volunteering" to be executed.
What he really is opting for, they will argue, is "state-assisted suicide."
According to his attorney, T. R. Paulding, Ross still hasn’t changed his mind.
"For him, it’s all unwanted," Paulding said of the numerous psychiatric interviews by four doctors, some of which spanned days. "It has been very stressful for him, but he’s holding up OK."
Paulding said Ross remains unwavering in his desire to proceed to his execution by lethal injection, now scheduled for May 11.
Norko has re-interviewed Ross and will return to report his findings. But three new psychiatrists have joined the case. Dr. Eric Goldsmith and Dr. Stuart Grassian, experts on death row syndrome, will testify during Groark’s presentation.
Paulding, who relied on Norko’s assessment the first time, has also hired psychiatrist Suzanne Gentile, of the Whiting Forensic Institute, to examine Ross. Gentile works in the competency restoration services division, and Paulding said part of her expertise is in the area of suicide.
Paulding said all the psychiatric interviews with Ross have been videotaped, but does not know whether those tapes will be entered into evidence or used only in the event a dispute arises over what was said. He expects the reports of all the doctors to be entered into evidence.
The hearings certainly will be contentious this week. Expect Ross to argue again vehemently that he is competent. Norko will also have to save face some, but let’s hope he puts that behind him to focus on the competency of Ross and doesn’t color his opinion with his reputation in mind.
Stay tuned. I will be updating as events happen. It is certainly going to be exciting.