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Court denies stay for Aileen Wuornos

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Oct. 8 -- The Florida Supreme Court denied a motion Tuesday for a stay of execution for Aileen Wuornos, the notorious serial killer who is scheduled to die by lethal injection Wednesday morning.

Wuornos, called by headline writers as the "Damsel of Death," has been given four death sentences for six murder confessions and is a suspect in a seventh. Her victims were shot and robbed after they had picked her up as a prostitute on central Florida's highways.

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Her life as a highway prostitute and the murders have been chronicled in three books, two television movies and a production by the San Francisco Opera.

The execution is for the first slaying, that of Richard Mallory, 51, an electrician from Palm Harbor, Fla., whose body was found in December 1989. Wuornos was convicted in 1992.

The motion for a stay was filed by a group named Florida Support Group, which is an affiliate of an anti-death penalty organization based in Ohio.

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The motion contended Wuornos is mentally ill and that an examination last week to determine her competency was inadequate. A panel of three psychiatrists determined she was competent to die. The court declined to consider the request for a delay.

Wuornos' menu for her last meal was not publicized, but she will have to eat it with a spoon, following prison policy for last meals.

She will be dressed in clothing issued by the prison, most likely black pants and a white, button-down shirt.

Wuornos, 46, will be strapped to a gurney and hooked to two intravenous lines. Thirty-two witnesses will watch as she is wheeled into the death chamber where an executioner pumps deadly chemicals into her system.

Wuornos had asked to be executed and has fired her lawyers. The other 367 inmates on Florida's death row are appealing their sentences or considering appeals. Their executions will be delayed while the state supreme court considers the impact on Florida of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in an Arizona case.

The court ruled that Arizona's death penalty was unconstitutional because the sentences were handed down by judges rather than juries of the defendant's peers. In Florida, juries make recommendations on the death penalty, but judges make the final decisions.

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Rigoberto Sanchez Velasco of Hialeah, Fla., had also "volunteered" for lethal injection and was executed last week.

Wuornos' status as a female serial killer is unusual but several researchers have found she is not unique. They say she is neither the first or the worst female serial killer in history.

That title could very well go to Hungarian Countess Erzebet Bathory who was said to have killed more than 600 people, most of them young girls, before she was found out. She was imprisoned in one of her castles and died in 1614.

Wuornos will be the first woman to be executed in Florida since Judy Buenoano was electrocuted March 30, 1998. Buenoano was known as the "black widow" for poisoning her husband, drowning her handicapped son and for trying to kill her boyfriend. She was a suspect in the poison death of another boyfriend in Colorado, but she wasn't charged.

Buenoano was the first woman to be executed in Florida since a freed slave was hanged in 1848. |end| Content: 02001000 02002000 02004000

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