CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. -- When Michael Swango pleaded guilty Wednesday to poisoning his patients, the agreement that saved him from execution also freed him from explaining exactly why he killed the aged and the infirm in his care.
But entries in a diary the defrocked doctor kept alongside handwritten recipes for poisons offered a glimpse of a former doctor who delighted in killing and the god-like power it brought him.
"When I k someone, it's because I want to. It's the only way I have of reminding myself that I'm still alive," Swango wrote, copying a passage from "The Traveller," a novel about a serial killer, according to court documents.
Dressed in a blue prison uniform, not unlike the medical scrubs he used to wear, Swango, 45, was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole after admitting in U.S. District Court to killing three of his patients when he was a doctor at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Northport, Long Island, in 1993 and one patient in Ohio in 1984.
In a crisp, professional, almost matter-of-fact tone, Swango said he administered "toxic substances which I knew were likely to cause death" to the three patients at the VA center.
He also acknowledged that he poisoned Cynthia McGee, 19, a college student hospitalized at the Ohio State University Hospital in Columbus in 1984.
Swango admitted injecting them with fatal overdoses of commonly used hospital compounds: potassium, the heart-stimulant epinephrine or the muscle relaxant succinyl choline.
Before Swango was sentenced, federal prosecutors Joseph Conway and Gary Brown also said that they had compiled a massive amount of evidence linking Swango to the murders if he decided to go to trial.
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