Friday, May 13, 2005

On An Ivy League Graduate

Reporting on Connecticut's first execution in 45 years, the New York Times seemed to emphasize the fact that the executed was an Ivy League graduate. No fewer than three times did the article mention and underscore Michael Bruce Ross' Cornell credentials. Once,
A graduate of Cornell University and a former life insurance salesman, Mr. 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.
Then, twice.
While rough edges defined that man, Joseph Taborsky, Mr. Ross was an Ivy League graduate with a sometimes condescending manner and a masterful grasp of the nuances of death penalty law.

He was first arrested on murder charges in 1984, three years after he graduated from Cornell. Six of his victims lived in eastern Connecticut; two lived in New York. He was sentenced to death in 1987 for four of the Connecticut killings.
A serial killer with rough edges!? I can't imagine. It was a good thing for Mr. Ross that he had good academic pedigree; otherwise, people might have thought that he was just a run-of-the-mill murderer. Maybe it was Cornell's legendary stressful atmosphere that pushed him over the edge.

Or, maybe his school had nothing to do with it.


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