Killer dodges death row after operation to cure evil

14.08.00: A CONVICTED murderer in Nebraska has undergone a revolutionary brain operation that will allow him to walk free.

Surgeons at Buffalo County hospital inserted a tiny electrical implant into the left orbito-frontal cortex of Jason Smith's brain. This area is known to inhibit impulses that in some people lead to violent behaviour.

The team, led by Dr Peter Lovestrange a cognitive neurologist at New York State University, implanted the device which activates an area of the brain associated with emotional sensitivity. The device is controlled by a remote "zapper".

Eight years ago, Smith was sentenced to die in the electric chair for the murder of 90-year-old Edith Jacobs during a drugstore robbery. As part of his final appeal, Smith volunteered for the pioneering brain operation that surgeons believe is a "cure for evil".

"I used to be a monster ­ but now I'm a human being," said Smith at a press conference. "For the first time, I feel sorry for people when they get hurt. Now I look back on what I was like before and shudder."

A judiciary spokesman said that Smith would be released under close supervision. "There will be zilch risk to the public," he added.

Smith's arresting officer, Detective Tom Hawkley, disagrees: "The only zapper I would use on that monster is the electric chair," he said. RC