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Bridgeport - A Connecticut man who shot two adults and a 9-year-old girl to death in 2006 was sentenced Thursday to die by lethal injection, becoming the 11th man on the state's death row and possibly the last person to receive capital punishment in the Constitution State.
Richard Roszkowski, 49, was sentenced in Bridgeport Superior Court, where a jury in March recommended the death penalty despite testimony that Roszkowski was mentally ill. Although Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the legislature abolished the death penalty in 2012, it applied only to future murders.
Roszkowski 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. Police said Roszkowski stalked Flannery after she broke up with him and falsely believed she and Gaudet were romantically involved.
Judge John Blawie sentenced Roszkowski to death for killing Kylie after chasing her down and shooting her as she begged for her life. The judge imposed life sentences for the killings of Holly Flannery and Gaudet.
Blawie set an execution date of Oct. 2 of this year, but years of appeals are expected and there will be an automatic review by the state Supreme Court.
Relatives of the victims cried and hugged each other at times during the sentencing hearing, while Roszkowski showed little emotion.
Erich Tipke, Kylie's grandfather, said his granddaughter loved riding her bike with her father, jumping on a trampoline and riding horses.
"All of these memories have been replaced by one thing and one thing only - the all-consuming fear that Holly and Kylie must have felt as they begged for their lives," Tipke said. "So for Rich (Roszkowski), I want that same fear to stay with him as he sits in his little room waiting to die. But also knowing his will be with him for eternity in hell."
Roszkowski apologized to the victims' families before being sent to death row.
"I'm truly, deeply remorseful for what happened, and truly sorry for the pain I caused," he said.
The case included a number of twists including an unsuccessful attempt by the Polish government in December and just before the sentencing to block the penalty phase. Polish officials called for a life prison sentence instead, saying Roszkowski is a dual citizen and there is no death penalty in Poland. Roszkowski's parents were Polish.
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 that began in January.
Before the sentencing on Thursday, Blawie rejected motions by the defense asking for a new trial, an acquittal and a life sentence.
Roszkowski's public defenders, Michael Courtney and Corrie-Ann Mainville have been fighting the imposition of the death penalty on several fronts. Among their arguments is that Roszkowski never should have been found competent to stand trial because he has a severe mental illness - paranoid delusion disorder. They also argue that imposing the death penalty on Roszkowski after the death penalty repeal would violate his constitutional rights.
Prosecutor C. Robert Satti Jr. rejected the claims that Roszkowski has a mental illness.
Connecticut's Supreme Court is now deciding whether the death penalty repeal violates the constitutional rights of current death row inmates who still face execution and whether it should apply to them as well.
Those questions come in the appeal of another convicted murderer, Eduardo Santiago. His death sentence was overturned by the state's highest court in 2012 and a new penalty phase was ordered last year when the state Supreme Court found the trial judge had wrongly withheld key evidence from the jury. If Santiago loses his appeal, then he could become the final person to face the possibility of the state death penalty. The federal government still has capital punishment.