Convicted killer who assaulted cellmate tells judge he'll kill anyone else assigned to his cell

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A convicted killer who was sentenced Wednesday in New London Superior Court to an additional four years in prison for brutally beating his cellmate in July 2014 said he would try to kill the next person assigned to bunk with him.

"'I'm putting it on the record," Jay R. Hotchkiss said. "If I get another cellmate, I will try to kill him."

Hotchkiss, 32, is serving a 17-year prison sentence for killing his mother, 47-year-old Sharon Hotchkiss, in April 2006 in West Haven by beating her with a dumbbell and stabbing her several times during an argument.

While incarcerated, he has accrued 43 disciplinary tickets.

In 2014, after being transferred from the Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown to the Montville prison complex, Hotchkiss insisted the Department of Correction had given him "single cell status," and attacked a man, later identified as Justice M. Law, who was assigned to be his cellmate, according to court records.

Hotchkiss punched the 38-year-old Law in the face, threw him out of the cell and kicked him in the head.

Law was unresponsive and bleeding from the ears when he was taken to The William W. Backus Hospital, according to a court document. 

Law was stabilized at Backus, where an emergency room doctor told police he had bleeding of the brain, and was transferred to the University of Connecticut Health Center for further treatment.

In an interview with detectives, Hotchkiss admitted attacking Law and said, "This could have been avoided if he had been kept in a single cell," according to the state.

Hotckiss was charged with first-degree assault. His case was headed to trial earlier this year when he accepted prosecutor Stephen M. Carney's plea offer to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of four years in prison followed by seven years of special parole.

The new sentence will run consecutive to Hotchkiss' current prison term, which expires in February 2023.

Brought before Judge Hillary B. Strackbein for sentencing Wednesday, Hotchkiss stood with attorney Matthew G. Berger and insisted that getting a single prison cell was part of the deal he had accepted.

Strackbein told him the court has no control over the Department of Correction, but that she would recommend that he be housed alone on a court order that commits him to prison and would attach a copy of his threatening remarks.

"Imagine if everyone said they wanted their own room?" the judge said.

Hotchkiss repeated his threat to try to kill anyone assigned to his cell.

"In case something happens, I said it here," he said.

k.florin@theday.com

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