- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 8, 2005

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Death penalty opponents set off yesterday on a five-day walk to protest the state’s plans to execute a serial killer who admitted killing and raping eight young women in Connecticut and New York in the early 1980s.

About two dozen protesters began the 30-mile journey that will end at the prison where Michael Ross is scheduled to be put to death Friday in what would be the first execution in New England in 45 years.

“So many people have asked me, ‘Why are you doing this for Michael Ross?’” said Robert Nave, executive director of the Connecticut Network to Abolish the Death Penalty and leader of the effort. “We’re not doing this for Michael Ross. We’re doing this because it is state-sponsored homicide.”

Protesters plan to walk for periods each day through Thursday night, stopping at the state Capitol, at churches and for vigils along the way.

They began before dawn in Hartford at Gallows Hill at Trinity College, a Colonial-era execution site.

Later, they held a moment of silence for the eight women who Ross admitted killing and their families.

Most opponents will not walk the entire 30 miles. They will come and go over the next few days. For those who are marching, clergy have offered to open their homes to give them a place to rest at night.

Though many acknowledged that there was little hope the execution would be halted, they hoped to send a message.

The Rev. Walter Everett, whose 24-year-old son, Scott, was killed in Bridgeport in 1987, said he never wanted his son’s killer to die, just to serve a long prison sentence.

Mr. Everett, a Methodist pastor in Hartford, once testified before a parole board for his son’s killer.

“I’m convinced the death penalty is society’s way of admitting defeat,” he said.

Marjorie Henry, 71, lived across the street from the Wethersfield prison where the state conducted its last execution — in 1960, putting to death Joseph “Mad Dog” Taborsky in the electric chair for a series of killings and robberies.

The memory of that night causes her to cringe, even now.

“I just remember a chill,” she said. “Being chilled to the core of the soul.”

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