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December 11, 2013

Poland asks Connecticut not to send murderer to death row

I just saw this intriguing domestic death penalty story from Connecticut with a notable international spin.  The piece is headlined "Poland's president challenges state's death penalty," and here are excerpts:

In what could spark an international incident, the president of Poland is demanding the state not execute a former Trumbull man for the terrifying 2006 murders of a city woman, her 9-year-old daughter and a Milford landscaper.

"We strongly believe the death penalty should not be imposed," Agniestka Torres, vice consul and head of the legal section for the Polish consulate general in New York, told Hearst Connecticut Newspapers. "It doesn't matter what crimes he committed."

The government of the Republic of Poland this week notified Gov. Malloy and the Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane that it objects to Richard Roszkowski -- whose parents were Polish -- getting the death penalty. Torres said the appeal comes directly from their president, Bronislaw Komorowski, who recently signed a law banning the death penalty in all circumstances.

Roszkowski was born in the U.S., but both his parents, who are now dead, emigrated from Poland and Roszkowski visited Poland when he was a child. "As far as we are concerned Mr. Roszkowski is a Polish national and is covered by our laws," Torres said....

This latest development adds to an already controversial status for the state's death penalty. In the last 60 years only one person, convicted serial killer Michael Ross, has been executed in this state and that was in February 2005.

Last year Malloy, an opponent of the death penalty, signed a law abolishing it for any new crimes. However, the law left in place the 10 men currently on death row. That portion of the law is currently under appeal.

Last week jury selection was completed for the death penalty hearing against the 48-year-old Roszkowski. His hearing is set to begin Jan. 7.

In May 2009 a Bridgeport jury found Roszkowski guilty of two counts of capital felony, three counts of murder and one count of criminal possession of a firearm for the Sept. 7, 2006, shooting deaths of 39-year-old Holly Flannery, her daughter, Kylie, and 38-year-old Thomas Gaudet.

Although the same jury that convicted Roszkowski of the crime subsequently found he should get the death penalty, the verdict was overturned on a technicality and a new penalty hearing was ordered. At least one of the jurors selected for the new death penalty hearing appears to be of Polish heritage....

Roszkowski's lawyers did not deny he killed the victims but presented nationally recognized medical experts and death penalty opponents who testified Roszkowski has brain damage caused by earlier car crashes, hepatitis and long-term drug use.  The families of the victims declined comment because they are expected to testify in the upcoming hearing.

Among other interesting questions raised by this story concerns whether and how the defense lawyers for this mass murderer ought to be able to bring up these international issues during the penalty trial. Could and should Roszkowski's lawyers be able to argue to the jurors that sentencing Roszkowski to death would cause an international incident and hurt US-Polish relations? Could and should Roszkowski's lawyers be able to have members of the Polish consulate general testify for the defense at the penalty trial?

December 11, 2013 at 08:16 AM | Permalink

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The killer was born in the U.S. of parents who emigrated from Poland, lived his entire life in the U.S., visited Poland about 40 years ago as a child, and the Polish government asserts any stake AT ALL in this case???

Far out! Even a defense lawyer wouldn't think of that.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 11, 2013 11:48:27 AM


|| “…shot her and Gaudet each once in the head on Seaview Avenue.
Witnesses said Flannery begged, "Don't do it in front of my daughter," as Roszkowski
held her in a headlock and put the gun to the back of her head.

He then chased the [ 9-yr-old ] girl down the street, shooting her in the back of the thigh, in the face and finally the side of the head at close range
as she begged for her life.” ||

Perfect candidate for displaced compassion.

Posted by: Adamakis | Dec 11, 2013 12:52:06 PM

"It doesn't matter what crimes he committed."
Splendid!

The mindless, indiscriminate, compassion of a globalist for the murderer: categorical..immoral..rigid..primitive..undemocratic, and unjust.

We should be thankful that these Poles were born too late to help the Nazis at
Nuremburg.

Posted by: Adamakis | Dec 11, 2013 12:59:51 PM

Bill, if a U.S. citizen were going to be subjected to a punishment that was lawful in that country but impermissible here (e.g., dismemberment for theft in an Islamic state), do you think the U.S. government would have a stake in that case?

That scenario is indistinguishable from this case. As far as the Polish government is concerned, the defendant is a Polish citizen as a matter of Polish law (b/c he has Polish parents and regardless of his birthplace) and he is subject to a punishment that Poland has rejected as unacceptably cruel.

Now, a U.S. court might not care what Poland thinks (just as a sharia court might not care what the U.S. thinks), but it's going a bit far to say the Polish government has no stake in this case "at all."

Posted by: HGD | Dec 11, 2013 1:16:39 PM

HGD ,

If the person actually identified as a national of that Islamic state then no I don't think the US government should care much, even if the US would in fact recognize the individual as a citizen, at least based on the nature of the proposed punishment. I could see getting involved if there were reason to doubt the truthfulness of the conviction, but that is an entirely different basis of complaint. And note I say this even for crimes that US jurisdictions could not constitutionally prosecute.

If foreign governments want to dismember foreign citizens for spitting on the sidewalks or cane them for buying bubblegum I don't see that being any business of the US.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Dec 11, 2013 4:02:17 PM

HGD --

"Bill, if a U.S. citizen were going to be subjected to a punishment that was lawful in that country but impermissible here (e.g., dismemberment for theft in an Islamic state), do you think the U.S. government would have a stake in that case?"

The U.S. government has a stake in the treatment of its own citizens in foreign countries, you bet. But it has no stake in how foreign countries impose their own criminal law on THEIR OWN citizens.

Roszkowski is indisputably a natural born U.S. citizen, with essentially no real-world connection to Poland except that he visited there as a child 40 years ago (if that can be said to amount to a real-world connection, which I doubt).

Since he is a U.S. citizen with continuous residence in this country since childhood, and since he committed his crimes in this country against (as far as we know) U.S. citizens, only U.S. law applies.

The only time in his entire life Poland has shown a whit of interest in this man (so far as the story reveals) is now, after he kills his fellow Americans on American soil.

Did the Polish government ever send him an absentee ballot to vote in Polish elections, on the theory that he's a "Polish citizen"? Did he ever ask for one? Not so far as I can see. If you know differently, I'd be happy to hear about it. But on the present facts, Poland's suddenly-discovered interest in Roszkowski is a fiction, at best, and should be treated as such.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 11, 2013 5:24:55 PM

On the matter of the Polish government being involved in this case, I will have to let you know that if both of Roszkowski's parents were Polish citizens (and it appears they were), then Richard Roszkowski is also automatically a Polish citizen, regardless of where he was born.

I just wanted to clarify why the Polish government is involved.

Also, I do not understand the "justification" for the silly "Nuremburg" (that person even failed to spell it correctly) accusation. The Nazis have committed so many horrible crimes in Poland, that even Roszkowski's deeds are the proverbial "small potatoes" in comparison.

Besides, perhaps no other country did so much to protect Nazi war criminals as the U.S.A.

Posted by: Odin | Dec 11, 2013 6:17:32 PM

Poland must offer to take him back for LWOP. I want to see him try to kill the president, Bronislaw Komorowski, as he greets the criminal at the airport.

Poland is rife with police and government corruption. So the killer and that government belong together.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 11, 2013 11:46:11 PM

Sorry Odin but this guy is a perfect candidate for immediate execution. Either he's a hardened killer to run down a 9 year old and unload a clip to manage to killer her. Or he's had one too many crashes to the head and he's a danger maybe to himself and def to others ad shown by this action. Either way we don't need him here.

Posted by: rodsmith | Dec 11, 2013 11:48:19 PM

The clarification as to citizenship (if true) is useful. As to not showing concern, yes, "as the story reveals." However much we should rely on that.

Also, as suggested by another comment, if some other country used a penalty we find uncivilized pursuant to their own law, the U.S. might formally (even for someone who was born here, left as a child & the country in effect had no concern for all his or her life) state their strong opposition. Poland probably is aware it has no concrete power over the U.S. government here. The language is hortatory.

As to the legal issues, the defense should be allowed in the sentencing phase to reference or put on evidence that addresses the issue. Realistically, it very well be of little value that Poland is against the execution of a heinous murderer, especially if the U.S. government doesn't express any concern of about some possible "incident," of whatever force. But, it would be a tad gratuitous not to allow the defense to even address it.

Posted by: Joe | Dec 12, 2013 12:20:48 PM

In other news, the USSC lifted an execution stay by a 5-4 vote.

Posted by: Joe | Dec 12, 2013 12:21:32 PM

Odin:

Agniestka Torres, vice consul: "It doesn't matter what crimes he committed."
Odin: "...even Roszkowski's deeds are the proverbial "small potatoes" in comparison."
Odin: "Also, I do not understand the "justification" for the silly "Nuremburg" .. accusation."

Oh mighty Odin of Nuremberg, to elucidate the allusion, we should be thankful that Poles and mythical daemons such as you, were not the sort evaluating the deeds of the Nazis.

Why?

Undue compassion for the murderer, be it indiscriminate or relativistic, is
immoral and unjust.

Posted by: Adamakis | Dec 12, 2013 1:07:43 PM

Go to Google Translate and start with English and translate Nuremberg to German and you will get Nurnberg with two dots over the u. We were the Exceptional Nation at Nurnberg and we put to death by hanging the worst war criminals. Some war crimes were committed in Poland. Goering was not contrite and committed suicide. Google: The Judges Trial.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Dec 12, 2013 1:40:41 PM

If German (and other) Nazi war criminals were not "perfect candidates for immediate execution" in the U.S.A. then neither is this guy. And yes, his deeds are indeed the proverbial "small potatoes" in comparison to the many German war criminals the U.S. government has protected for so many years.

As for Richard Roszkowski being a de facto Polish citizen, that is also true.

You people are immoral and unjust, or should I say extremely hypocritical?

Posted by: Odin | Dec 12, 2013 4:01:25 PM

Odin --

"As for Richard Roszkowski being a de facto Polish citizen, that is also true."

No, it isn't. It's utter tripe. He was born in the USA and has lived here his whole life. Does he even speak Polish? Has he ever voted in a Polish election? Does he celebrate Polish national holidays?

You have no clue.

"You people are immoral and unjust, or should I say extremely hypocritical?"

You should say what you actually think, to wit, that there's just not that much wrong with murder, which is why you strain to find any grounds, no matter how silly, to make excuses for the murderer.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 12, 2013 7:51:10 PM

Joe --

"But, it would be a tad gratuitous not to allow the defense to even address it."

I hope the judge allows it. When the jury sees that defense counsel wants to talk about the views of Poland, of all things, rather than about the facts of the case, it will get a good dose of how little the killer has to say for himself. The prosecution's argument will look all the stronger against the backdrop of the defense's palpable silliness.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 12, 2013 7:57:20 PM

Bill, the defense attorney would not likely ONLY bring this up, so it is not a matter of "rather" this. It is just one more thing to toss in, which is done by both sides. Each side has various arguments and if this mattered even a little bit (with other things) to one or two jurors, the defense could find it useful.

Posted by: Joe | Dec 12, 2013 8:21:17 PM

"if this mattered even a little bit (with other things) to one or two jurors,
the defense could find it useful."--Joe

'Many would find this deplorable, but I commend you, Joe'.--N. Machiavelli

Posted by: Adamakis | Dec 12, 2013 10:38:07 PM

Why is it "deplorable" to try to put on the best case for your client, including what will (unless -- not seeing it -- it is unethical or illegal) influence jurors and judges?

Posted by: Joe | Dec 13, 2013 4:00:54 PM

Joe there is a big diff in putting on your best case and pulling a defense out of fantasy land and trust me the ideal that a 3rd country where the individual was not born in or even legally lived in to become a resident has any say in their life years and decades later is fantasy land.

Posted by: rodsmith | Dec 14, 2013 11:20:54 AM

rodsmith --

Nailed it.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 14, 2013 11:59:41 AM

"pulling a defense out of fantasy land"

It is not "fantasy land," however, since there is a broad right to raise reasons why the person should not be executed. The argument is not that it is "illegal" or something. It can be that it is a bad sentence to impose because on balance it will cause problems internationally, which one or more jurors (who can be influenced by things rodsmith, Bill Otis et. al. find moronic) can find compelling. So, with respect, didn't "nail it."

Posted by: Joe | Jan 29, 2014 10:06:23 PM

"not born in or even legally lived in"

Under U.S. law, this is not the only way one is a citizen. Likewise, under Polish law, as noted in the article, that is not the only way a person is a "Polish national." It is not "fantasy land" for the U.S. to oppose mistreatment, including by a punishment it deems cruel, of a citizen even those who are not born here or have never lived here. If a U.S. citizen was involved, quite a few would find it curious if the U.S. had no "say" at all, even to the degree that they could not simply voice their opposition.

Posted by: Joe | Jan 31, 2014 5:28:42 PM

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