Death penalty constitutionality hearings continue

Missed in my migration this weekend was Friday’s testimony in the death penalty constitutionality hearing. Waterbury State’s Attorney Connelly testified about his hands-on approach in deciding whether to pursue the death penalty. Waterbury has prosecuted five of the seven current death row inmates.

While Connelly described, step-by-step, his decision-making process, other prosecutors said they simply followed the guidelines established in the Connecticut General Statutes.

The question of a prosecutor’s discretion appeared pivotal.

Connelly said he does not have a choice not to pursue a capital case. “That’s a misuse of discretion. … If you have the evidence and you don’t seek it, I think a state’s attorney would be abusing that discretion.”

In describing his approach, Connelly said, “If I only felt I could find probable cause I would not charge. I’d have to be convinced of a conviction. If I felt I could sustain a conviction for a capital felony I would charge.”

The hearings resume on April 12.

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