The Connecticut Supreme Court issued a mixed ruling Monday in the case of convicted murderer Richard Roszkowski, when it vacated his three murder convictions, which had been merged with two felony convictions, violating the double jeopardy clause of the U.S. Constitution. The ruling does not change the fact that Roszkowski will remain behind bars for the rest of his life.
Roszkowski was sentenced to death in 2014 for shooting to death two adults and a 9-year-old girl in Bridgeport in 2006. At the time, a state judge ruled that then-49-year-old Roszkowski should die by lethal injection. Roszkowski was convicted in 2009 of murdering his ex-girlfriend, Holly Flannery, her 9-year-old daughter, Kylie, and 38-year-old Thomas Gaudet. Police said Roszkowski believed Flannery and Gaudet were romantically involved.
In a 5-0 decision, the court ruled against the defense, which wanted Roszkowski’s 2014 death sentence expunged from state records. Even though the death penalty was ruled unconstitutional the following year, the defense argued that convicts sentenced to death have stricter rules in prison than other inmates.
Justice Richard Palmer wrote that the defense’s argument was similar to that of Jesse Campbell III, noting ”the defendant’s argument, although perhaps facially attractive, is foreclosed by our decision in State v. Campbell.” The defendant in that case, Palmer noted, sought to challenge his prior death sentence because he could be exposed to “enhanced punishment” of administrative segregation.
Said Palmer: “We concluded that Campbell’s penalty phase challenges were not ripe because he had not yet been resentenced, making it impossible to say what his conditions of confinement would be” and “a petition for writ of habeas corpus represents a more appropriate vehicle for challenging an inmate’s conditions of confinement.”
Palmer added that “the defendant’s situation is not materially different from that of Campbell.”
Roszkowski was represented by Adele Patterson, a senior assistant public defender. Patterson did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Roszkowski was convicted of three counts of murder, two counts of felony murder and one count of criminal possession of a firearm.
The state was represented by Harry Weller, who is now the retired senior assistant state’s attorney out of Rocky Hill; John Smriga, a state’s attorney in Bridgeport; C. Robert Satti Jr., the supervisory assistant state’s attorney in Bridgeport; and Margaret Kelley, the supervisory assistant state’s attorney, of Bridgeport.
Weller told the Connecticut Law Tribune Tuesday that the “opinion speaks for itself.” Smriga and Satti declined to comment, and Kelley could not be reached for comment.
In addition to Palmer, those voting on the nine-page ruling included Chief Justice Richard Robinson and Justices Andrew McDonald, Gregory D’Auria and Raheem Mullins.