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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP and WTIC) _Connecticut’s second-highest court has heard arguments in the case of former Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez who’s appealing his five corruption convictions.  It will issue its decision at some future point.

Perez’s arguments before the state Appellate Court include insufficient evidence and mistakes made by the trial court judge.

Much of the live argument focused on the defense’s contention that Perez’s case should have been split into two trials, with one focusing on extortion-related charges, and the  other focusing on bribery-related charges.

“The court can give every cautionary statement that it wants in the world [to jurors], that these cases are separate, and you are not supposed to combine them… But the point is in this case Perez was already painted as a liar in the bribery case,” said defense attorney Hubert Santos.  “All of this was thrown at the jury in one sitting. By the time we got up to present our defense, we were pretty well cooked.”

But Senior Assistant States’ Attorney Harry Weller disagreed.

“Here you have proof almost beyond a reasonable doubt, that the jury not only separated the charges, but literally separated the counts,” Weller said.

Weller noted that jurors did not convict the mayor on all of the counts he faced.

Weller also said finding impartial jurors to sit on a second trial would have been difficult, especially if Perez was convicted in the first trial.

Perez, Hartford’s first Hispanic mayor, was convicted in 2010 of receiving a bribe from a city contractor in the form of home improvements and trying to extort a $100,000 payment from a developer. Authorities say Perez paid $20,000 for $40,000 worth of home improvements, but only after he was questioned by a grand jury.

The Democrat was sentenced to three years in prison but has remained free on an appeal bond.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. )


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