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Serial killer's execution postponed

Attorney asked for delay over possible 'conflict of interest'


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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Convicted serial killer Michael Ross's execution in Connecticut was postponed until Monday due to questions about Ross's representation, his attorney said Saturday.

"A concern has arisen as to whether there is a conflict of interest regarding my continued representation of Mr. Ross," attorney T.R. Paulding said, without elaborating.

Ross, who would be the first inmate executed in Connecticut in more than 40 years, had been scheduled to die by lethal injection at 2 a.m. Saturday.

Friday night, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down his father's legal efforts to block his execution.

His execution was rescheduled for 9 p.m. Monday, said Theresa Lantz, commissioner for the Connecticut Department of Correction.

Friday, Judge Robert Chatigny rebuked Paulding during a telephone call with attorneys for trying to expedite Ross's execution. Chatigny questioned whether new evidence suggested that Ross dropped his appeals because of harsh conditions on death row.

"What you are doing is terribly, terribly wrong," Chatigny told Paulding, according court records. The judge indicated he thought it was possible Paulding might lose his law license.

Chatigny had issued a stay on the execution last week, saying he wanted to hear more evidence regarding factors surrounding Ross's decision to give up his appeals.

Saturday, the attorney for Ross' father, Antonio Ponvert, said he will look at more options to further delay the execution.

State officials declined to comment, saying only that they were required by law to delay the execution under the circumstances.

"The issues of conflict of interest are between the lawyer and a client," said Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. "It will be for [Paulding] to tell you as much as he wishes to."

Christopher Morano, chief state's attorney, and other officials apologized to the families of Ross's victims for the delay.

Paulding made clear, however, that he, not Ross, was requesting the postponement.

"His decision to accept his lawfully imposed penalty remains unchanged," Paulding said.

At least eight women killed

Ross, 45, has admitted killing eight women in Connecticut and New York.

He was sentenced to death for killing Robin Stavinsky, April Brunais, Wendy Baribeault and Leslie Shelley in eastern Connecticut in the 1980s.

All his victims were 14 to 25 years old when Ross strangled them to death. He admitting raping all but one of them.

Dzong Tu, a Vietnam-born graduate student in economics at Cornell University in New York, is believed to have been Ross's first murder victim. Her death followed a string of rapes on campus in the spring of 1981. Ross also was a student at the university.

CNN's Deborah Feyerick, Laura Dolan and Chris Strathmann contributed to this report.


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