Court Won't Let Sister Stop Conn. Execution

A Superior Court judge Tuesday rebuffed an attempt by a sister of serial killer Michael Ross (search) to intervene in the case and stop her brother's execution this week, which would be the first in New England in 45 years.

Rockville Superior Court Judge Jonathan Kaplan ruled Tuesday that Donna Dunham (search) has no standing to act on her brother's behalf.

Ross, 45, was sentenced to death for murdering four young women in eastern Connecticut in the early 1980s and has confessed to four other murders in Connecticut and New York.

Last year, he decided to end his appeals and accept his death sentence. He is scheduled to die by lethal injection just after 2 a.m. Friday.

Kaplan's decision, which calls the complaint "wholly frivolous," came a day after the state Supreme Court upheld a ruling that Ross is mentally competent.

Ross' attorney, T.R. Paulding (search), said he believes Monday's Supreme Court ruling removed the last major hurdle. Paulding has been helping clear the path to execution, as Ross says he wants.

"The issue of competence was the only potentially valid issue that would allow any of these interlopers to get their foot in the door," Paulding said.

Dunham's attorney, Diane Polan, had argued that Ross is not mentally competent to make a voluntary decision to die. The harsh conditions on death row and Ross' narcissism coerced him into thinking that death was a noble choice, she argued.

Those were similar to the arguments used in failed attempts by Ross' father and the state's public defenders to intervene.

In addition to the court fight, the state Department of Public Health has received formal complaints from at least four doctors asking it to investigate the planned execution.

Three Connecticut physicians filed complaints alleging numerous medical, ethical and legal problems with the state's lethal injection procedures. A fourth doctor, from Ohio, alleges that the Department of Correction and its clinical director improperly volunteered to train Ross' execution team in the medical procedures needed for lethal injection.