Defense Challenges CT Death Penalty As “Standardless”


Accusing Connecticut’s 13 prosecutors of making “God-like decisions” by seeking the death penalty in only a selection of murder cases, attorneys for killer Jessie A. Campbell III want the prosecutors to testify about how they make such decisions, reports the Manchester (Ct.) Journal Inquirer. Campbell was convicted of killing two people, a “capital felony” in Connecticut. Jurors deadlocked on the penalty, so a judge has ordered a new jury to consider the case.

Campbell’s defense team argues that the state’s capital-felony law has created disparities in how the death penalty is applied and asked for a life sentence for Campbell. The “standardless system” by which state prosecutors decide to seek the death penalty is unconstitutional, the lawyers argue. “Whether a person charged with a capital felony will face the death penalty depends largely on arbitrary factors such as the judicial district in which the crime occurred,”

the lawyers maintain. Waterbury State’s Attorney John Connelly called the defense argument that prosecutors play God “a lot of hyperbole.” Connelly says he weighs what he considers the crime’s aggravating factors and mitigating factors that the defense would be likely to assert.


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