Mother of Norwich murder victim to testify before Congress about immigration failure

The mother of Norwich murder victim Casey Chadwick will travel to Washington next week to tell members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that her daughter would be alive if the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration & Customs Enforcement division had done its job.

Wendy Hartling has been hoping to tell her story to Congress since she learned last year that the man charged with fatally stabbing her 25-year-old daughter in June 2015, was a Haitian national who had not been deported after serving a 16-year prison sentence for attempted murder. Jean Jacques, 41, was convicted of Chadwick's murder in April and is scheduled to be sentenced June 6 to up to 60 years in prison.

U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the oversight committee, wrote to Chadwick on Wednesday to invite her to testify on April 28 at a hearing that will examine the Department of Homeland Security's procedures related to the release of criminal aliens and the subsequent impact on public safety.

Hartling, of Gales Ferry, was working on her testimony Thursday and said she would be reviewing it with New London attorney Chester Fairlie, a longtime leader of the local chapter of Survivors of Homicide who is working with her on the immigration issue.

"I'm going to tell them who I am, what Jean Jacques did and that if ICE and Homeland Security had done their jobs, Casey would be here," Hartling said during a phone interview. "I'm going to tell them about the trial and everything, how brutal it was. I've got a lot of nice stuff written about Casey and how many friends she had, and what things she planned on doing that she can't do anymore."

Hartling said that Chadwick's best friend, Crysta Wydra, would accompany her to the Capitol.

Fairlie, who had sat and provided comfort and information to Hartling and her family during the Jacques trial, said he and his client are putting together a packet of information for the committee.

"At the same time that Jacques' murder trial came to an end with a conviction, attention is focusing to the second part of this very serious case, and that is the failure of ICE to do the deportation," Fairlie said.

Fairlie said the investigation of the case conducted by Inspector General John Roth of the Department of Homeland Security is expected to be released in just a few weeks. The state's two U.S. senators and the region's congressman had written to Roth late last year to demand an investigation.

"It's amazing how these things are coming together," Fairlie said Thursday. "This will be a level of detail and examination which has not been achieved in similar tragedies around the country."

While in Washington, Fairlie said he would be bringing the case to the attention of the National Crime Victim Bar Association, which is a group of lawyers from around the country who represent crime victims, and the National Center for Victims of Crimes.

According to court documents, Jacques came to the United States through Guantanamo, Cuba, in 1991. He was convicted of attempted murder and carrying a pistol without a permit in 1997 and sentenced to 16 years in prison. Released in 2012 to the custody of the U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement, he was set free after a failed deportation attempt. Charged with a parole violation in 2014, he was returned to prison for about six months, when he was once again turned over to the custody of ICE and again set free without being deported.

About five months later, Chadwick was dead.

k.florin@theday.com

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