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Woman on Death Row Allowed to End Appeals

April 02, 2002|From Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Supreme Court ruled Monday that one of the nation's first known female serial killers is competent to fire her attorneys, stop her appeals and accept her death sentence.

In a brief unanimous order, the court also fired Aileen Wuornos' state-appointed lawyers and dismissed her five appeals.

A call to the legal office representing Wuornos was not immediately returned. Lawyers from the Capital Collateral Regional Counsel had said they wouldn't be able to represent her if the court ruled in her favor.

Wuornos, 45, has spent a decade on Florida's death row. She was sentenced to death six times for killing middle-aged men when she worked as a prostitute along the highways of central Florida in 1989 and 1990.

Wuornos has been the subject of a feature film, a television movie, an opera and three books. She testified during her 1992 trial that she killed men who assaulted her and made her fear for her life, but later said she had lied.

Since last spring, she had written Florida's high court several letters expressing her desire to drop all appeals and be executed.

"There are six cases which had all been unanimously decided for in death, and of which I firmly agreed in with their final decision, since I'm one who seriously hates human life and would kill again," Wuornos wrote in one letter.

One of her attorneys said Wuornos didn't understand the ramifications of what she was doing and her behavior raised questions about her mental health.

Last July, a judge in Daytona Beach ruled that Wuornos was competent to halt her appeals and fire her attorneys. The high court upheld that ruling Monday.

There was no immediate word from Gov. Jeb Bush's office as to when he might sign a death warrant.

"Her case is under review," Bush spokeswoman Katie Muniz said.

Florida has executed only one woman since 1848--Judy Buenoano, who died in the electric chair on March 30, 1998.

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