In early 2011, Brian Patterson was killed in Virginia.
A little more than a year later, Brown’s cousin, Khalilah Brown-Dean came
forward to protest the death penalty in Connecticut.
Brown-Dean was 1 of 6 speakers, all of them family members of slaying victims,
who took part in a press conference and rally Wednesday to end the death
penalty. Those 6 speakers are among 179 family members of slaying victims who
signed a letter to legislators arguing against capital punishment.
“There is simply no justice in taking the life of another,” Brown-Dean said.
All of the speakers at Wednesday’s rally had tragic stories to tell.
Torrington’s Elizabeth Brancato’s mother was killed in 1979. In New Haven,
Victoria Coward’s 18-year-old son was killed in 2007. The brother of Stamford’s
Catherine Ednie was killed in 1995.
Many of the speakers choked back tears as they recounted their losses, but all
agree that the state’s death penalty should be repealed.
Calling the state’s application of the death penalty “arbitrary and
capricious,” Ednie called the idea that only the “worst of the worst” criminals
get put on death row, “insulting.
“It divides murders into 2 classes, the worst and the not-so-bad,” she said.
Coward spoke about the death penalty’s increasing cost to the state, citing
numbers that range from $4 to $7 million annually, a sentiment that was echoed
by many of Wednesday’s speakers.
“The death penalty creates a painful illusion that some cases are worthier than
others,” she said. “It robs us desperately of needed resources and keeps the
spotlight on the offender.”
Though he understands that “there are some extremely heartfelt feelings out
there,” state Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, a member of the legislature’s
Judiciary Committee, said the idea that capital punishment creates an unfair
class system of murders is a “preposterous argument.”
“Because the person who killed my loved one does not face the death penalty,
then no one should face the death penalty?” he said. “That makes no sense.”
Though there has been no exact determination as to the cost of prosecuting a
capital crime versus the cost of seeking a sentence of life in prison without
the possibility of parole, there are many costs involved in what is a lengthy
“There are several problems involved in trying to determine the cost of a
capital case,” according to a report issued by the state’s Office of
Legislative Research in 2000. “First, there is a wide variety of costs
associated with capital cases. These include costs for prosecuting and defense
attorneys, interpreters, expert witnesses, court reporters, psychiatrists,
secretaries, and jury consultants.”
This is not, by far, the 1st time Connecticut legislators will argue for and
against capital punishment. Last year, the issue was stalled in the Senate -- 2
years ago a bill made it all the way to Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s desk, where it
Though Republicans are gearing up for a battle, Senate Minority Leader John
McKinney, R-Fairfield, said recently that he expects repeal to “squeak” through
the Senate. That estimation may have been altered by state Sen. Andrew
Roraback, R-Goshen, a long-time supporter of repeal and current Congressional
candidate in the 5th district, who said last week he would not vote against the
death penalty unless a different law, one allowing for inmate sentence
reductions also is repealed.
Kissel said “the death penalty performs a valuable function in our criminal
justice system,” though Wednesday’s anti-capital punishment advocates argued on
both practical and ethical grounds that the death penalty serves little
Deacon Arthur Miller, of the Archdiocese of Hartford, spoke about his cousin,
who was killed by an undocumented immigrant fleeing police. “His death is one
of those not-so-bad deaths,” he said.
“I’d rather not have revenge,” he said. “The death penalty is not what I fought
for in Vietnam.” (source: Connecticut Post Chronicle)