Bill to streamline death penalty dies in committee

The appeals process that slows down putting someone to death in Connecticut will not be sped up this legislative session, as the bill failed to make it out of the Judiciary Committee today.

Rep. Michael P. Lawlor, D-East Haven, said he did not bring the bill before the committee for a vote because “it wasn’t on anyone’s priority list.”

The bill would have placed a limit on appeals and a deadline, a change he said he supports as co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

“There comes a point that unless you are alleging actual innocence, enough is enough,” Lawlor said.

During a public hearing earlier this month, Dr. William Petit, the sole survivor of the 2007 Cheshire home invasion, told the committee there are 1,000 pending appeals in Connecticut’s courts and is frustrated with the slow process to convict.

There are currently 10 people on death row, with Robert Breton having been sentenced to death back in 1989.

Kevin Kane, chief state’s attorney, testified there have been 12 cases where someone was granted a new trial from their habeas corpus appeal, of which four were found innocent.

The bill comes almost a year after Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed abolishing Connecticut’s death penalty.