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Monday, 27 December 2010

Aileen Wuornos

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Aileen Wuornos (February 29, 1956 – October 9, 2002) was an American serial killer who killed seven men in Florida between 1989 and 1990, claiming they raped or attempted to rape her while she was working as a prostitute. She was convicted and sentenced to death for six of the murders and executed by lethal injection on October 9, 2002.
[edit] Childhood

Wuornos was born as Aileen Carol Pittman in Rochester, Michigan, on February 29, 1956.[2] Her mother, Diane Pratt, was 15 years old when she married Aileen's father, Leo Dale Pittman on June 3, 1954. Aileen had an older brother named Keith, who was born in February 1955. Less than two years later and two months before Wuornos was born, Pratt filed for divorce. Wuornos never met her father, because he was in prison for the rape and attempted murder of an eight-year-old boy [3] when she was born. Leo Pittman, a child molester, was in and out of prison and hanged himself in prison in 1969.[1][4] In January 1960, Pratt abandoned her children, leaving them with their maternal grandparents, Lauri and Britta Wuornos, who legally adopted Keith and Aileen on March 18, 1960.[4]

From a young age, Wuornos engaged in sex with multiple partners, possibly including her own brother. Wuornos claimed that she was sexually assaulted as a child by her grandfather. In 1970, at age 14, she became pregnant [5] , having been raped by an unknown man.[6] Wuornos gave birth at a home for unwed mothers, and the child was placed for adoption.[4] A few months after her baby was born, her grandmother died of liver failure; and Aileen and her brother became wards of the court. When she was 15, her grandfather threw her out of the house; and she began supporting herself as a prostitute and living in the woods near her old home.[4]
[edit] Apprehension and sentencing

On July 4, 1990, Wuornos and Moore abandoned Peter Siems' car after they were involved in an accident. Witnesses who had seen the women driving the victims' cars provided police with their names and descriptions, resulting in a media campaign to locate them. Police also found some of the victims' belongings in pawnshops and retrieved fingerprints matching those found in the victims' cars. Wuornos had a criminal justice record in Florida, and her fingerprints were on file.[4]

On January 9, 1991, Wuornos was arrested on an outstanding warrant at The Last Resort, a biker bar in Volusia County.[19] Police located Moore the next day in Scranton, Pennsylvania. She agreed to elicit a confession from Wuornos in exchange for prosecutorial immunity.[20] Moore returned with police to Florida, where she was put up in a motel. Under police guidance, Moore made numerous telephone calls to Wuornos, pleading for help in clearing her name. Three days later, on January 16, 1991, Wuornos confessed to the murders. She claimed the men had tried to rape her and she killed them in self-defense.[21][22]

On January 14, 1992, Wuornos went to trial for the murder of Richard Mallory. Prior bad acts are normally inadmissible in criminal trials; but, under Florida's Williams Rule, the prosecution was allowed to introduce evidence related to her other crimes to show a pattern of illegal activity.[1] On January 27, 1992, Wuornos was convicted of Richard Mallory's murder with help from Moore's testimony. At her sentencing, psychiatrists for the defense testified that Wuornos was mentally unstable and had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Four days later, she was sentenced to death.[22][23]

On March 31, 1992, Wuornos pleaded nolo contendere (no contest) to the murders of Dick Humphreys, Troy Burress, and David Spears, saying she wanted to "get right with God".[1] In her statement to the court, she stated, "I wanted to confess to you that Richard Mallory did violently rape me as I've told you; but these others did not. [They] only began to start to."[1] On May 15, 1992, Wuornos was given three more death sentences.[1]

In June 1992, Wuornos pleaded guilty to the murder of Charles Carskaddon; and, in November 1992, she received her fifth death sentence.[1] The defense made efforts during the trial to introduce evidence that Mallory had been tried for Intent to Commit Rape in Maryland and that he had been committed to a maximum security correctional facility in Maryland that provided remediation to sexual offenders.[24] Records obtained from that institution reflected that, from 1958 to 1962, Mallory was committed for treatment and observation resulting from a criminal charge of Assault with Intent to Rape and received an over-all eight years of treatment from the facility. In 1961, "it was observed of Mr. Mallory that he possessed strong sociopathic trends."[24] The judge refused to allow this to be admitted in court as evidence and denied Wuornos' request for a retrial.[22][24][25]

In February 1993, Wuornos pleaded guilty to the murder of Walter Gino Antonio and was sentenced to death again. No charges were brought against her for the murder of Peter Siems, as his body was never found. In all, she received six death sentences.[1]

Wuornos told several inconsistent stories about the killings. She claimed initially that all seven men had raped her while she was working as a prostitute but later recanted the claim of self-defense. During an interview with filmmaker Nick Broomfield, when she thought the cameras were off, she told him that it was, in fact, self-defense, but she could not stand being on death row—where she had been for 12 years at that point—and wanted to die.[26]
[edit] Execution

Wuornos' appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied in 1996. In 2001, she announced that she would not issue any further appeals against her death sentence. She petitioned the Florida Supreme Court for the right to fire her legal counsel and stop all appeals, saying, "I killed those men, robbed them as cold as ice. And I'd do it again, too. There's no chance in keeping me alive or anything, because I'd kill again. I have hate crawling through my system...I am so sick of hearing this 'she's crazy' stuff. I've been evaluated so many times. I'm competent, sane, and I'm trying to tell the truth. I'm one who seriously hates human life and would kill again."[27] A defense attorney argued that she was in no state for them to honor such a request.[28]

Florida Governor Jeb Bush instructed three psychiatrists to give Wuornos a 15-minute interview. The test for competency requires the psychiatrist(s) to be convinced that the condemned person understands that they will die and for which crime(s) they are being executed. All three judged her mentally fit to be executed.

Wuornos later started accusing the prison matrons of abusing her. She accused them of tainting her food, spitting on it, serving her potatoes cooked in dirt, and her food arriving with urine. She also claimed overhearing conversations about "trying to get me so pushed over the brink by them I'd wind up committing suicide before the [execution]" and "wishing to rape me before execution." She also complained of strip searches, being handcuffed so tightly that her wrists bruised any time she left her cell, door kicking, frequent window checks by matrons, low water pressure, mildew on her mattress and "cat calling ... in distaste and a pure hatred towards me." Wuornos threatened to boycott showers and food trays when specific officers were on duty. "In the meantime, my stomach's growling away and I'm taking showers through the sink of my cell."

Her attorney stated that "Ms. Wuornos really just wants to have proper treatment, humane treatment until the day she's executed," and "If the allegations don't have any truth to them, she's clearly delusional. She believes what she's written".[29]

During the final stages of the appeal process she gave a series of interviews to Broomfield. In her final interview shortly before her execution she claimed that her mind was being controlled by "sonic pressure" to make her appear crazy and described her impending death as being taken away by angels on a space ship.[30] Wuornos said to Broomfield, "You sabotaged my ass society, and the cops, and the system. A raped woman got executed, and was used for books and movies and shit."[31] Her final words in the on-camera interview were "Thanks a lot, society, for railroading my ass."[32] Broomfield later met Dawn Botkins, a childhood friend of Wuornos', who told him, "She's sorry, Nick. She didn't give you the finger. She gave the media the finger, and then the attorneys the finger. And she knew if she said much more, it could make a difference on her execution tomorrow, so she just decided not to."[33]

Wuornos was executed by lethal injection on October 9, 2002.[34] She was the tenth woman in the United States to be executed since the Supreme Court lifted the ban on capital punishment in 1976,[35] and the second woman ever executed in Florida. She declined a last meal and instead was given a cup of coffee. Her final statement before the execution was "Yes, I would just like to say I'm sailing with the rock, and I'll be back, like Independence Day with Jesus. June 6, like the movie. Big mother ship and all, I'll be back, I'll be back." [1]
 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aileen_Wuornos -

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