'Highway hooker' serial killer wins the right to be executed

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The Independent Online

A judge in Florida has accepted a plea from America's most notorious female serial killer, Aileen Wuornos that she be allowed to face execution as soon as possible.

Ms Wuornos, sentenced to death for murdering seven middle-aged men in Florida in 1989 and 1990, has been fighting for months for the right to sack her court-appointed lawyers and forego all remaining appeals. An appeals court in Daytona ruled on Friday that Ms Wuornos is mentally competent and should be allowed to die.

At her original trial, Ms Wuornos, 45, launched repeated vituperative verbal assaults at all those in the court, once calling jurors the "scumbags of America", because they didn't believe her claims that, as a prostitute working central Florida highways, she had killed the men only after they had raped her and threatened her life.

She admits now, however, that her defence was fabricated and that she robbed her victims and killed them out of pure hatred. "I wanted to clear all the lies and let the truth come out," she declared at Friday's hearing. "I have hate crawling through my system".

She made a similar argument in a letter to Florida's Assistant State Attorney earlier this year, also signalling she might murder again. She said: "I myself am under a rage that only continues to burn, and has for years, that obviously I'd kill again – and in pure hatred, as I did those men".

It is now up to the state Supreme Court in Florida to clear the way for a "fast-track" execution procedure that could ensure Ms Wuornos is killed by lethal injection before the end of the year. Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, also managed to hasten his demise in the execution chamber after dropping his appeals.

The intense interest in Ms Wuornos, dubbed the "Highway Hooker", spawned a media cottage industry around her. As well as the TV movie – Overkill: The Aileen Wuornos Story – British documentary maker, Nick Broomfield, has made: Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer. Only last month, San Francisco opera-goers were treated to a new work simply entitled Wuornos. Composed by Carla Lucera, the work received damning reviews. One critic in the San Francisco Chronicle saw at least one good thing in it – that it "probably does signify the end of the docu-opera as we have known it".

Assistant Attorney General Scott Brown said he sensed remorse in the new attitude of Ms Wuornos in seeking an early execution. "Her letters show some religious motivation," he said. "She's wanting to come clean. She did murder seven men and, presumably, that would weigh heavy on her conscience."

Psychologists hired by the state to determine Ms Wuornos' mental competence, conceded she suffers from borderline personality disorder, which accounts for her quickly shifting behaviour. They advised the judge, however, that she was fully aware of the machinations of the hearing and the pertinent legal details.

A group of lawyers dedicated to defending prisoners on Florida's Death Row, the Capital Collateral Representative Council, said it would pressure the Supreme Court to keep Ms Wuornos' appeal avenues open. "The only thing consistent with Ms Wuornos is her inconsistency," said Richard Kiley of the group.

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