Life or Death?

BOSTON (AP) — A jury sentenced Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death Friday for the Boston Marathon bombing, sweeping aside pleas that he was just a “kid” who fell under the influence of his fanatical older brother.

The death penalty.  You’re for it, or you’re against it.  Few are ambivalent.

I am among the few.  I was for it, and then I was a media witness to the execution of serial killer Michael Ross.  Here’s how I fell into the lukewarm well of ambivalence.

Ross was executed just over ten years ago.  May 13, 2005.  Just after 2 a.m., at Osborn Correctional in Somers, CT.  He passed on a special last meal, and when asked if he had a last statement, he said his final words: “No, thank you.”  He was given a lethal injection, and with a brief gasp and shudder, he went to sleep.  Forever.

We were separated from the families of his 8 victims by a curtain.  They were understandably pleased to see the killer of their loved ones put to death.  Ross was a rapist and murderer.  His death was far less terrifying than those of his victims.  He wanted to die.  He got to know where and when.  Those 8 women, ranging in age from 14 to 25, never had a chance or a choice.

I was neither pleased nor displeased to witness his death.  I have never mentally replayed the end of Michael Ross.

What I do remember, though, is where he died.  Not the death chamber, but the prison itself. Osborn housed the death chamber, but it was not a “supermax” facility.  Still, being escorted down the hall, hearing the echo of my footsteps off the concrete, enveloped in drab olive and gray, wondering who was behind the ironclad cell doors with tiny windows…that was when I fell into ambivalence about the execution, about the death penalty.

What, I wondered, was worse.  A sterile, controlled death?  Or life in a hellhole with no chance of ever getting out?

What is worse?

I don’t know.


About Gerry

I've been covering Connecticut news and sports since 1974. I know, I don't look that old.
This entry was posted in News, People and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Life or Death?

  1. Anna Stewart says:

    By giving him the death penalty, they made him a martyr in the eyes of his fellow terrorists. He should have been given a life sentence and made to suffer like he made his victims suffer.

  2. Cat says:

    I like you, was privy to see an execution down in Florida. I was not there in person however. It was 2AM on a Saturday morning, when my aunt woke us from our beds and brought us into the den to watch tv. We had to be in our teens as I recall… We couldn’t imagine what we had done that she was rewarding us with this late night treat. Well,,, we should have known that a “lesson to learn” would be involved. They were showing an execution and it was live. At first I thought it would be “cool”, like some kids would think but as they got ready and I listened to this man cry out that he was innocent, what I thought at first to be cool, was now very uncomfortable. I tried to get up but was quickly told to sit back down. Now, some would think Auntie was a bit harsh on us, but I can tell you this, watching this man twitch and jerk for what seemed to be the longest time of my life, I can say to this day, that I would never, ever think of doing anything in my life ,that would put me in the position that man was in at that moment. Did I fail to mention, this was not a death by injection? Its something I will never forget.
    So, with this young man today being told of his fate, I didn’t quite know what to feel.
    I know what he did with his brother was so very wrong. I can’t help but think he was probably told what he was going to do. Then again , he was old enough to walk away and say no, but at what expense to himself? He hurt and killed many people, so yes, he has to pay for these terrible crimes.
    Being there were no cameras allowed in the courtroom, we didn’t get to see this young man, we were only told of his demeanor during the trial. Nothing against the media, but at times, they can and often do, get carried away with their own feelings and thoughts. I do feel for this young man but I’m not sure just what the feelings are. Yes, he deserves a very harsh punishment but like you ask, is it to sit in a concrete room for the rest of his life, rotting both his brain and body, or a quick shot in the arm and its lights out for him… I just don’t know, but I do know, either way, this young man did lose his life today.

  3. Gerry says:

    Well said, Cat. And what a story!

  4. Gene says:

    Apparently the method of execution is lethal injection and that has become problematic recently as the sources for the lethal substances are becoming scarce.

  5. Wendy says:

    Well put, Gerry…..

  6. Douglas lloyd says:

    Was,Jodi Rell the governor then?

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