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Mother of homicide victim says she will lobby for 'Casey's Law'

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The mother of homicide victim Casey Chadwick saw her daughter’s accused killer for the first time Thursday in New London Superior Court, then stood outside the courthouse with her attorney and a sign reading: “Fix Deportation.”

Jean Jacques, a 40-year-old Haitian national who had served a 16-year prison sentence for attempted murder, is accused of fatally stabbing Chadwick, 25, on June 15 and leaving her body in the bedroom closet of her home.

Wendy Hartling, the victim’s mother, broke down briefly when Jacques was led into the courtroom, but regained her composure and spoke with reporters outside about working with New London attorney Chester Fairlie to draft a law that would ensure immigrants who commit violent crimes are deported.

“I would like to see a law named ‘Casey’s Law,’” Hartling said. “I have to do this for my daughter. I can’t let this go. It gives me a purpose.”

Jacques, who came to the United States through Guantanamo, Cuba, in 1991, was twice released from prison to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement, but was set free when the agency said it could not obtain the birth records needed to deport him.

Represented by attorneys Kevin C. Barrs and Peter E. Scillieri from the public defender’s office, Jacques, who is being held in lieu of $1.1 million, has yet to enter a plea or notify the court if he wants a probable cause hearing at which the state would have to prove it has enough evidence to prosecute him. He is due back in court on Sept. 11.

Jacques was charged with murder and attempted murder after a double shooting outside an apartment at 495 Laurel Hill Ave. in February 1996.

He was accused of fatally shooting Fresnel Eugene, 30, in the back of the head and shooting and pistol-whipping Eugene’s girlfriend, Nadia Joseph. A jury convicted him of attempted murder but found him not guilty of murder.

Fairlie, who has been involved with the local chapter of Survivors of Homicide for years, said he had all but retired from practicing law until he learned of the Jacques case.

He said he would be drafting a proposed law to toughen up on deportation of dangerous immigrants who have committed aggravated crimes.

He said he hopes to work with Connecticut’s two U.S. Senators and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, all of whom have taken an interest in the case.

ICE’s authority to detain individuals is limited by a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court decision outlined in Zadvydas v. Davis, which limits the detention of aliens to six months but indicates ICE “may” hold them longer if there is clear and convincing evidence the person is dangerous.

Fairlie said the law needs stronger language.

“If the word was ‘shall,’ or ‘must,’ thereby giving ICE authority to hold them, then they would,” he said. “This would be the framework of Casey’s Law.”

k.florin@theday.com

Twitter: @KFLORIN

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