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April 29, 2013

Death row inmate says he 'deserves to die'

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. — Fredrick Michael Baer has an envelope in his solitary cell at the Indiana State Prison here. Inside is a letter asking his lawyers to end his death penalty appeals and allow him to die.

The 41-year-old Baer has been on death row for more than eight years. Legal challenges could extend his stay for another eight years. 

Besides, he said, he deserves to die for the attempted rape and knife murder of 26-year-old Cory Clark and her 4-year-old daughter on Feb. 25, 2004, inside their home near the tiny town of Lapel in central Indiana.

“I think about it  ... every day,” sobbed Baer during a recent  prison interview with the Anderson, Ind., Herald-Bulletin. "I’m so sorry ... so sorry.”

Still, he hasn't mustered sufficient courage to send the letter terminating his appeals even though he said he doesn't fear death.

“I have the paperwork ready to be dropped in the mail any day,” said Baer. “I live day by day. Death is just a transition for me at this point.”

His lead lawyer during his murder trial, Jeffrey Lockwood, said death row inmates go through a roller coaster of emotions but defense attorneys advise against cutting short the appeals process.

"Life shouldn’t be considered cheap. No matter who it is. That’s what I believe, and I think that’s how most people feel,” said Lockwood, who is now a prosecutor. “There are lots of ups and downs and emotions with the victim’s family, their own family. The entire process is very emotional for everybody."

Baer is confined to a small cell in a tall, brick building on the prison grounds, surrounded by barbed wire and guard towers. The prison holds 2,000 of Indiana's most henious criminals, including 10 other death row inmates. State officials estimate it costs $1 million in trial and appeal costs for a death penalty convict.

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