The 11 Men on Connecticut's Death Row Won't Die
At least, not by the state's hand, after court overturns death penalty
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 13, 2015 10:59 AM CDT
These undated inmate file photos released by the Connecticut Department of Correction shows Steven Hayes, left, and Joshua Komisarjevsky.   (AP Photo/Connecticut Department of Correction, File)

(Newser) – The 11 men sitting on death row in Connecticut won't die by the state's hand following today's ruling by the state's highest court. The state abolished the death penalty in April 2012, but only for future crimes; today's decision by the Connecticut Supreme Court concerned whether that ban should also affect those who were on death row prior to the 2012 ruling. The "deeply divided" court ruled 4-3 that the death penalty is a violation of the state's constitution, reports the Hartford Courant. The decision will affect Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes, who were sentenced to die for killing a mother and her two daughters in 2007 in the high-profile Petit home invasion.

The ruling comes in an appeal from Eduardo Santiago, whose attorneys had argued that any execution carried out after repeal would constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Santiago faced the possibility of lethal injection for a 2000 murder-for-hire killing in West Hartford. The repeal eliminated the death penalty while setting life in prison without the possibility of release as the punishment for crimes formerly considered capital offenses. Connecticut has had just one execution since 1960. Serial killer Michael Ross was put to death 2005 after winning a legal fight to end his appeals.