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Hartford - A Connecticut public defender vowed the state will have to kill her before she allows it to execute her client in a triple murder case she said never should have gone to trial because the defendant is mentally ill.
Assistant Public Defender Corrie-Ann Mainville made the comments in an email to the Connecticut Post, the newspaper reported Monday. She told The Associated Press that the proclamation was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but she's serious about the appeal in the case of Richard Roszkowski.
The 49-year-old Roszkowski was convicted of killing two adults and a 9-year-old girl in Bridgeport in 2006. A jury recommended the death penalty two weeks ago after hearing testimony that Roszkowski was mentally ill, and a judge is expected to sentence him to lethal injection May 22.
Mainville says Roszkowski has a severe mental illness - paranoid delusion disorder - and was high on heroin, crack cocaine and other drugs at the time of the killings. She said he never should have been found competent to stand trial, a claim the prosecutor in the case denies.
"I will not live another peaceful day in my life until this verdict is reversed," Mainville said in the email to the newspaper. "The state will have to kill me before they kill my client. ... The state's vengeance has overcome the standards of decency and humility of civilization."
Roszkowski, a former Trumbull resident, was convicted in 2009 of capital felony and murder for gunning down his 39-year-old ex-girlfriend, Holly Flannery, her 9-year-old daughter, Kylie, and 38-year-old Thomas Gaudet on a Bridgeport street in broad daylight amid horrified onlookers. Police said Roszkowski stalked Flannery after she broke up with him and falsely believed she and Gaudet were romantically involved.
The 2009 jury decided Roszkowski should be put to death, but a judge overturned the sentence because of an error made during jury instructions and ordered a new penalty phase.
Mainville told the AP that it was "unconscionable" that the jury disregarded testimony by a psychiatrist and psychologist about Roszkowski's mental illness.
She also worries that Roszkowski won't live through the yearslong appeal process. She said he has had cancer in the past and continues to have rectal bleeding, but refuses medical treatment including a colonoscopy because he believes it would destroy evidence that prison officials are poisoning him.
She also said he refuses to eat anything other than food in sealed packages from the prison commissary, and he doesn't have much money left in his account to keep doing that.
The prosecutor, C. Robert Satti Jr., defended the state's actions.
"The state did challenge the evidence from their (mental health) experts and the jury didn't find that they met their burden of proof," he said.
Mainville also said the state shouldn't have pursued the death penalty, because Connecticut abolished capital punishment in 2012. The repeal of the death penalty only was for future murders, and the state Supreme Court is deciding whether the prospective repeal violates the constitutional rights of death row inmates still facing execution. Roszkowski became the 11th man on Connecticut's death row.
The Polish government unsuccessfully sought to block the penalty phase and urged a judge to impose a life prison sentence, because it considers Roszkowski a dual citizen and there is no death penalty in Poland. Roszkowski's parents were Polish.