WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Vt. (AP) – Vermont Law School professor Michael Mello, an internationally-known authority on death penalty litigation, has died. He was 51.

Mello, who was involved with such high-profile cases as “Unabomber” Theodore Kaczynski and serial killer Ted Bundy, passed away Sunday in his home after a brief illness. Knight Funeral Home confirmed his passing.

Vermont Law School Dean Geoffrey Shields, who notified students and faculty of Mello’s death in an e-mail Monday, says Mello will be remembered most for his personal touches.

“Michael Mello is well known as a prolific writer on the death penalty and criminal law matters … but I will remember him especially for his mentoring friendship for students and his willingness to contribute in myriad ways to the life of Vermont Law School outside the classroom,” Shields wrote.

Others mourned his death, too.

“I knew him as a profound scholar, and as a tireless opponent of capital punishment,” said Burlington attorney Robert Rachlin, who also teaches at Vermont Law School.

Mello, a graduate of the University of Virginia’s law school, worked as a law firm clerk in Washington, D.C., then for a Court of Appeals judge in Birmingham, Ala., before becoming a public defender specializing in death penalty appeals.

He worked in a Washington law firm – teaching a capital punishment seminar at the University of Maryland’s law school on the side – before he joined the faculty of Vermont Law School in South Royalton in 1988.

There, he taught constitutional law, criminal law, criminal procedure and ethics, in addition to seminars on capital punishment and search and seizure.

Mello is survived by his wife, Deanna, a Vermont Law School graduate.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete Monday. A memorial service is being planned, Shields said.


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