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DECORSO SAYS HE’S THE VICTIM

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Michael DeCorso seems incredibly calm for a man who could be executed if convicted of his alleged crimes.

It's hard to tell whether his composed demeanor is an earnest reflection of a peaceful heart or a front for worry so consuming he cannot consciously grasp it.This much is evident about the man whom some prosecutors and detectives have likened to Ted Bundy: He believes he has been wronged.

Speaking in his first media interview since his arrest, DeCorso said he is not the criminal the press and prosecutors have painted him to be.

"I'm tired of the hype and the vendetta against me. . . . I am not the serial rapist and murderer they claim I am," he said Tuesday from a holding cell in the Salt Lake County Jail.

The former emergency medical technician faces eight separate criminal charges, including capital murder in the slaying of a Payless Shoe Source clerk last year. And he has been named as a possible perpetrator in dozens of unsolved crimes ranging from burglary to rape.

As serious as the charges against him are, DeCorso seems positively at ease talking about the potential consequences, explaining his nonchalance as though it were an inherited trait.

"I'm not prone to emotional outbursts. . . . I never have been. I'm no Jekyll and Hyde."

No other suspect in Utah has been the subject of so much investigative scrutiny since Bundy slipped in and out of the state on his murderous binges in the 1970s.

So excuse DeCorso, he said, if he declines to talk about the specifics of each crime the Salt Lake County district attorney has charged him with committing.What about the single fingerprint linking him to the stabbing and assault of the shoe clerk, Margaret Ann Martinez?

"No comment."

And what of the account of a woman who says she was kidnapped by DeCorso, sexually abused, beaten and then run down twice by the fleeing man in his van?

"That case is coming up real quick; I'd be wiser not to say anything."

He revealed the most when questioned about six search warrants that uncovered circumstantial evidence prosecutors un-doubtedly will use to bolster some of the charges.

Primary among the hundreds of items seized by detectives with the warrants is a can of Mace ringed by a thick layer of gray duct tape and a pair of women's panties slashed as though cut from a person's body.

"I certainly haven't cornered the market on duct tape, and a lot of people in my profession carry Mace. . . . It's a normal thing to have," DeCorso said.

In the Martinez murder, the woman was bound with gray duct tape, from which was lifted DeCorso's fingerprint, court records state. And her panties were cut from her body, police have said.

Other cases in which investigators have named DeCorso as a suspect have involved the use of pepper Mace on victims.

But DeCorso said he is the victim and that he hoped an interview would "set the record straight," commenting that he was relieved when the Oklahoma City bombing captured headlines that had focused on him.

"Everything was getting so out of whack . . . I was becoming a daily part of the news. It's been hard on my family, on my fiancee. My life will never be the same."

DeCorso insisted he in fact is an upstanding citizen who advocates law and order.

He volunteered that he is a supporter of the death penalty and described it as "an appropriate means to stop criminal behavior."

He said, "I just think prosecutors should have all their ducks in a row before they pursue it and not let conjecture drive their in-vestigations."

DeCorso guarded details about his other political leanings, inquiring about the necessity of such questions. And he would reveal little about his childhood, confirming only that he was interested in medicine and martial arts throughout his formative years.

Cautious as he was through most of the 30-minute interview, De-Corso at times showed animated flashes of how he thinks his fate should play out.

He dreams of being found not guilty on all counts "and walking away." He is concerned about getting a fair trial but has faith in the jury system.

He wants most of all to be "allowed to smell the fresh air again and touch the hand of my fiancee."

He reflected frequently on the woman he says he wants to marry. "I love her so much. That has been the hardest part of being in here."

As to justice and what it holds for him, DeCorso would say only that he can't tell the future.