State supreme court considers death penalty repeal - WFSB 3 Connecticut

State supreme court considers death penalty repeal


The state abolished the death penalty last year, but only for future cases. And now, one prisoner wants his case looked at again.

The argument went all the way to the state supreme court Tuesday. 

Eduardo Santiago is accused of killing a West Hartford man in exchange for a broken snow mobile in 2000.

The argument was made by Santiago's lawyer, Mark Rademacher, that if you get rid of the death penalty, you must get rid of it for everyone.

"It's arbitrary under the statutes," said Rademacher, who is an assistant public defender.

"I'm not seeing that your argument calls for greater protection under the statute," said Chief Justice Chase Rogers of the Connecticut Supreme Court.

Rademacher is challenging the law change that does not protect Santiago and others sentenced to death before the repeal.

He points to what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School where 20 children and six adults were shot and killed on Dec. 14. 

"If the shooter in Newtown would have lived he would not have been executed but Mr. Santiago, who killed someone for a broken snowmobile should die," Rademacher said. "That makes no sense to the average person."

The 2007 Cheshire murders influenced Connecticut lawmakers and public opinion showed most wanted Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky to get the death penalty.

As a compromise, lawmakers voted to keep the death penalty for those currently on death row.

But the state's attorney Harry Weller told Eyewitness News the intent of the law is clear and the issue is really about how people feel about the death penalty.

"The death penalty in Connecticut has not been found immoral," Weller said. "In fact, people prefer it when you look at crimes like Boston. Perhaps there will be future discussions about that."

Santiago's death sentence was overturned in June because some evidence was withheld from the jury.

The state supreme court ordered a new penalty hearing.

That hearing is now on hold until the supreme court decides whether the repeal is constitutional and that could take months.

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