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May 31, 2012

Connecticut litigation gearing up over status of those left on the row after death penalty repeals

This article from the Hartford Courant, headlined "Triple Murder Will Put Repeal Of State's Death Penalty Before The Supreme Court," reports on the developing rev up to litigation over the impact for those on death row of the repeal of the death penalty in Connecticut. Here is how the article starts:

Connecticut's death row inmates will look to the state's highest court to answer questions about whether their exclusion from the state's new death penalty repeal violates their rights.

The case of triple murderer Richard Roszkowski is the backdrop for defense attorneys' challenge of the provision in the landmark legislation that abolishes the death penalty for future capital crimes committed in Connecticut but allows executions for those who committed capital crimes before the repeal.

Roszkowski was convicted and sentenced to die in 2009 for killing his former girlfriend, her 9-year-old daughter and his former roommate in Bridgeport. However, because of an error in jury instructions, a judge dismissed his death sentence and ordered a new penalty phase, which was scheduled to start in June.

At what was supposed to be a routine pretrial hearing for Roszkowski at Superior Court on Wednesday, Michael Courtney, head of the state Public Defender's Office capital defense unit, said that his office would file a brief by Aug. 7, posing nine questions to the state Supreme Court that deal with the constitutionality of capital punishment and of the prospective provision of the new state law. The unit also would file a motion to preclude the death penalty in Roszkowski's case. "Our intention is to get this in front of the Supreme Court as soon as possible," Courtney said.

May 31, 2012 at 09:05 AM | Permalink

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