By DAVE COLLINS, Associated Press
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Despite an uncertain fate for Connecticut’s repeal of capital punishment, the state is moving ahead with the death penalty trial of a man convicted of killing two adults and a 9-year-old girl on a Bridgeport street in 2006.
Jury selection in the penalty phase of Richard Roszkowski’s trial began Monday in state Superior Court in Bridgeport. A 12-member panel will hear evidence and decide whether the 48-year-old former Trumbull resident should get lethal injection or life in prison without the possibility of release.
Roszkowski’s lawyers had objected to a new penalty phase, noting the state Supreme Court is still deciding whether the state’s repeal of the death penalty last year is constitutional.
The state got rid of the death penalty but only for murders committed after April 24, 2012. Defense lawyers say eliminating capital punishment for some people and keeping it for others is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court is mulling the issue in the case of death row inmate Eduardo Santiago.
Roszkowski’s public defenders also lost an effort to get their client declared incompetent to stand trial. In July, Judge Robert Devlin rejected a defense request to have Roszkowski undergo another competency exam. Roszkowski had been declared incompetent for the penalty phase but was later deemed competent after undergoing psychiatric exams and treatment.
A prosecutor and defense lawyer were busy with jury selection Monday and didn’t respond to requests for comment.
A jury convicted Roszkowski and decided he should get the death penalty in 2009. But a judge overturned the sentence because of an error made during jury instructions and ordered a new penalty phase.
Roszkowski gunned down his 39-year-old ex-girlfriend, Holly Flannery, her 9-year-old daughter, Kylie, and 38-year-old Thomas Gaudet on Sept. 7, 2006. Police said Roszkowski stalked Flannery after she broke up with him and falsely believed she and Gaudet were romantically involved.
Authorities said Roszkowski shot Flannery and Gaudet in their heads. Kylie tried to run away, but Roszkowski chased her and shot her in the leg and head, police said.
Jury selection in the penalty phase is expected to take several weeks, a court clerk said Monday. Jurors are scheduled to begin hearing evidence in January.
It’s not clear when the state Supreme Court will issue a ruling in Santiago’s case. Justices heard arguments in April.
Santiago, 34, a former Torrington resident, was sentenced to death for killing a man in West Hartford in 2000. But the state Supreme Court overturned his sentence and ordered a new penalty phase last year, two months after the death penalty repeal took effect.
Santiago’s lawyers argue that eliminating the death penalty for future crimes only violates the constitutional rights to equal protection and due process.
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