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    Wednesday, August 17, 2022

    New London murder trial delayed again

    New London - The murder trial of Christopher Q. Petteway, who is charged in the 2018 stabbing death of 63-year-old Robert Parise in New London, is on hold again.

    New London Superior Court Judge Shari Murphy reluctantly agreed to discharge Petteway’s two public defenders, Kevin Barrs and Michael Miller, at Petteway’s request and because of a conflict between Barrs and a witness in the case.

    Petteway, who has written multiple letters to the judges in the New London courthouse, had filed an unspecified grievance against Miller. Without Miller, Barrs said he would not be able to cross examine one of the state’s witnesses because of a conflict with that witness.

    Murphy warned Petteway that although he has a right to be represented by a public defender, he does not necessarily have a right to handpick who represents him.

    “We have had multiple delays,” Murphy said. “This request is going to result in an additional delay.”

    Murphy ultimately granted the request without an objection from Assistant State’s Attorney Stephen Carney. Carney said he had discussed the matter with Parise’s family and they were “discouraged” by the delay “but intend to soldier on.”

    Carney has previously offered Petteway 35 years in prison in exchange for a guilty plea in the case that would have avoided a trial. Petteway declined the offer and now faces up to 70 years if convicted at trial of the charges of murder and violating terms of a standing protective order.

    Jury selection for the trial - 12 jurors and four alternates - was completed in June. But the case was halted last month when Petteway’s attorneys requested a second competency evaluation to determine if Petteway was able to understand the legal proceedings and assist in his own defense.

    The state has been losing jurors because of the time delay.

    The results of the competency evaluation were to be the subject of a hearing on Monday but Petteway refused to come to court from prison. On Tuesday, Petteway explained the state did not provide special transportation he needed to avoid muscle spasms in his back.

    He was again found competent to stand trial. Petteway was similarly evaluated by clinicians from the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Service’s Office of Forensic Evaluation in 2018.

    In addition to complaints about his transportation to court, Petteway has also made unsubstantiated claims of “perjury, slander and negative publicity,” in a letter to New London Superior Court Judge Hillary Strackbein.

    In a June 29 letter to Judge Murphy, Petteway apologized for “dozing off in court,” and argues his unidentified concern had not been adequately addressed.

    Barrs said a new public defender would be found quickly but the new attorney would have to be brought up to speed in the case. The timeline for a trial is now unclear.

    It was another blow to family members of Parise, who appeared disgusted by another delay and also the fact that Petteway turned to them and addressed them in courtroom on Tuesday.

    “I’m really, really extremely sorry about this. It wasn’t intentional. I’m really sorry your brother’s gone,” Petteway said to family seated in the courtroom.

    “You need to turn away from me,” one man in court replied.

    Petteway allegedly stabbed his former intimate partner, Parise, multiple times in the kitchen of Parise’s Brainard Street home in New London on Oct. 18, 2018. Police said Parise was able to identify Petteway as his attacker before he died. At the time, Parise was a client of Safe Futures, which provides services for domestic violence victims. Police said Petteway had used his own key to enter the home.

    Upon his arrest, New London police said Petteway said “I hope he dies,” and “I got him as many times as I could.”

    Family and friends of Parise described him as a gentle soul involved in a toxic relationship.

    Petteway was sentenced to 30 days in prison and two years of probation in the summer of 2018 following a domestic incident involving Parise. A protective order was issued after his release from prison. Public records show Petteway also had domestic violence cases in Virginia, Florida and New York dating back to 2001.

    Judge Murphy said Tuesday she would reevaluate whether or not to keep remaining jurors once the new special public defender is appointed.

    Petteway is expected back in court for a status conference on Aug. 24.

    g.smith@theday.com

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