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    1. #1

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      Oct 2010

      Jessie Campbell III - Connecticut Death Row

      Facts of the Crime:

      Convicted of capital felony, murder, attempted murder, first-degree assault and weapons violations for the August 26, 2000 shooting deaths in Hartford of 20-year-old LaTaysha Logan and 18-year-old Desiree Privette; and the shooting of Privette's aunt, Carolyn Privette.

    2. #2
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      Oct 2010
      Connecticut Supreme Court Rules Death Penalty Unconstitutional, Bars Execution Of Any Inmate

      The Hartford Courant

      The Connecticut Supreme Court Thursday ruled 4-3 that the state's death penalty law, as it now stands, is unconstitutional and it barred the execution of the 11 state prison inmates now on death row.

      The law in question was enacted in 2012. It barred the "prospective" execution of those convicted of capital offenses after the date of enactment, but permitted the execution of those convicted before.

      "Upon careful consideration of the defendant's claims in light of the governing constitutional principles and Connecticut's unique historical and legal landscape, we are persuaded that, following its prospective abolition, this state's death penalty no longer comports with contemporary standards of decency and no longer serves any legitimate penological purpose," Justice Richard Palmer wrote for the majority.

      ""For these reasons, execution of those offenders who committed capital felonies prior to April 25, 2012, would violate the state constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment."

      When state lawmakers abolished the death penalty in 2012 but made the law prospective, it prompted legal challenges by attorneys representing those condemned to die by execution.

      The Supreme Court agreed to take up the law's prospective issue when it granted a request by Eduardo Santiago, whose death sentence was overturned two months after the repeal took effect.

      The justices ordered a new penalty phase for Santiago, saying the trial judge failed to disclose "significant and relevant" mitigating evidence for jury consideration when jurors decided to send Santiago to death row for the December 2000 killing of Joseph Niwinski in West Hartford.

      During the death penalty debate, some legislators questioned whether a prospective repeal would stand up in court. The provision was added following the high-profile trials of Cheshire home invasion killers Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky, both of whom are on death row.

      In his 2013 arguments before the Supreme Court, Assistant Public Defender Mark Rademacher told justices that even Connecticut's top prosecutor was skeptical of the prospective repeal.

      "The problems with the prospective repeal were aptly summed up by Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane when he told the legislature that prospective repeal creates two classes of people," Rademacher said at the time.

      "One will be subject to execution and the other will not, not because of the nature of the crime or the existence or absence of any aggravating or mitigating factor but because of the date on which the crime was committed," Rademacher said Kane told legislators in March 2012.

      "That is untenable as a matter of constitutional law or public policy. I just wouldn't plain feel right doing it," Rademacher recalled Kane saying.

      Rademacher said no jurisdiction in the history of the United States has executed an offender after renouncing capital punishment. In Connecticut, the State Board of Pardons and Paroles — not the governor — has the power to commute a death sentence to life in prison.

      Senior Assistant State's Attorney Harry Weller argued in support of the new law, saying that prospective repeal was the legislature's intent. He said it is constitutional and argued against the justices ruling on just part of the law. If the effective date of the law is found unconstitutional, the law must be struck in its entirety, he said.

      Weller said he saw two outcomes, "and neither of them get the defendant what he wants." The first outcome, he said, would be to affirm the constitutionality of the new law. The second outcome would be a ruling that the new law is unconstitutional.

      "But if you do that, the entire act is unconstitutional," Weller said. "This defendant remains subject to the death penalty and the death penalty remains in place."

      Weller said the state's highest court has always deferred to the legislature in regard to decisions about Connecticut's death penalty.

      The last person to be executed in Connecticut was serial killer Michael Ross, and it occurred in 2005 only after Ross waged a legal fight to end his appeals and to have the sentence imposed.


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