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High Court Hears Appeal In Murders Of 8-year-old Boy, Mother

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Assistant Public Defender Mark Rademacher argues before the state Supreme Court, in the appeal of death row inmate Russell Peeler, Jr. Image from CT-N pool feed.

Assistant Public Defender Mark Rademacher argues before the state Supreme Court, in the appeal of death row inmate Russell Peeler, Jr. Image from CT-N pool feed.

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The state Supreme Court today heard the appeal of a death row inmate convicted of arranging the Bridgeport killings of an 8-year-old boy, and the child’s mother.

Russell Peeler, Junior’s Assistant Public Defender Mark Rademacher claims the state was wrong to tell jurors that because the defendant was already serving life in prison, anything less than the death penalty would be like allowing two free murders, without any additional punishment.

“It’s difficult to imagine anything that a prosecutor could say in closing argument, that would be more destructive of the entire trial process,” Rademacher said.

But the state argues that it was the defense that raised the issue of the previous, federal sentence.

Senior Assistant States Attorney Marjorie Allen Dauster argued that because the defense brought up the federal sentence, the state was allowed to respond.

The defense brought up dozens of other claims in paperwork filed with the court.

Two years ago, state lawmakers and the governor took the death penalty off the books in Connecticut, but they say the law allows people already on death row to be executed.

Karen Clarke and her son, Leroy “B.J.” Brown were killed in 1999, by Peeler’s brother. The 8-year-old boy was a witness against Peeler in another murder case.

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