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March 18, 2014

Despite legislative abolition, Connecticut jury imposes death sentence on triple murderer

This local article from Connecticut reports on the outcome of the last capital case that was still in the works when the state abolished, prospectively only, the punishment of death.  The article is headlined "Roszkowski gets death row for triple murder," and here are the basics:

A career burglar from Trumbull became the 12th and last resident of Connecticut's death row when a jury found he should die by lethal injection for the execution-style murders of a mother, her 9-year-old daughter and a Milford landscaper. "I won't have any trouble getting to sleep tonight because I know we did the right thing," said juror Cedric Grech, shortly after a state Superior Court jury on Monday handed down the penalty for Richard Roszkowski.

"Right now I'm emotionally drained," said juror Ladawn Newton. "But I know that mother, her little girl and Mr. Gaudet and their families can finally have peace in their lives, and that makes me feel good that we made the right decision."

The fact that he will now be in the history books -- albeit for one of the worst crimes in the city's history -- didn't appear to affect the 48-year-old Roszkowski, who sat emotionless at the defense table as the verdict was read by Court Clerk Thomas Saint John.

It was certainly not lost on his lawyer, Michael Courtney, who had bragged in the courtroom during the two-month trial that he had never lost a Connecticut death case. Courtney's face turned bright red and he shook his head mouthing, "No, no, no" as the verdict was announced. Meanwhile, his co-counsel, Corrie-Ann Mainville, moved up to Roszkowski and began massaging his back and shoulder, whispering in his ear.

"This verdict was for Kylie," said C. Robert Satti Jr., who prosecuted the case along with Margaret Kelley, referring to the murdered girl. Satti's father, C. Robert Satti Sr., had successfully prosecuted the last man executed in this state, serial killer Michael Ross, who died by legal injection in 2005 after 20 years on death row. "It was an extremely conscientious jury that weighed the facts and the evidence and came to the appropriate verdict," Satti said.

Several jurors said it was the brutality Roszkowski showed the girl that earned him the death penalty. "There was just no excuse for what he did to the little girl," Grech said....

In a strange twist in the case, the president of Poland -- Roszkowski is of Polish descent -- is demanding that the U.S. not execute him; the courts have not yet addressed the issue.

In April 2012, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed a law eliminating the death penalty, but kept it in place for the 11 people now on death row. The Roszkowski case, which was pending at the time the law was signed, is the state's last death-penalty trial.

March 18, 2014 at 02:53 PM | Permalink

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Comments

The president of Poland intervened? That's a twist...

Posted by: Riley | Mar 18, 2014 2:59:58 PM

Some might require the murder of 300 before the death penalty is justified,
but not a Connecticut jury.

Posted by: Adamakis | Mar 18, 2014 4:13:12 PM

Lawyer question.

Jury nullification is most often a not guilty verdict despite clear matters of law and facts or even admission by the defendant indicating guilt (see Peter Zenger and his Philadelphia lawyer) of violating an unpopular or unfair law.

Has there ever been a reverse jury nullification, in which a jury imposed a sentence harsher than allowed by law, due to egregiousness of a crime? One in which the jury imposed the death penalty in a state that had repealed it, or a prison sentence longer than allowed by law to express disapproval of the leniency of the law.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 18, 2014 7:42:57 PM

hmm a two month trial done YEARS after the death penalty was tossed is considered legal?

get real.

Posted by: rodsmith | Mar 19, 2014 1:57:18 AM

SC,

I would think the closest to that situation in real life would be a lynch mob.

With execution in particular the jury simply isn't given the option unless it is allowed by law and I suspect the judge would simply ignore it if the jury wrote on the verdict form "We, the jury in ____, after having duly deliberated on the matter have come to the conclusion that ___ should be executed." Just as it would be ignored if a juror were to say after the trial "I wish we could have given him a death sentence."

Rod,

The bill eliminating execution was specifically prospective only, it did not purport to remove the death sentence for those already sentenced or even cases where charges had already been filed (not that I will be surprised if the Connecticut courts rule that exclusion invalid for some reason and expand the repeal to cover all cases, and not that I expect an execution in Connecticut any time soon regardless).

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Mar 19, 2014 9:59:08 AM

maybe so soronel but I figure if the trial had been finished and sentence done it would pass. once that peticular sentence was basically taken off the books it should not have been allowed.

if what your saying is true they could basically charge you as a john doe and then have all the time in the world to do what they want.

Posted by: rodsmith | Mar 19, 2014 3:10:04 PM

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