FILE - In this May 22, 2014 file photo, Richard Roszkowski listens to victims' statements during his sentencing at the Superior Courthouse in Bridgeport, Conn. The Connecticut Supreme Court is scheduled to decide Monday, July 23, 2018, whether to order a new murder trial for Roszkowski, convicted of gunning down two adults and a 9-year-old girl on a Bridgeport street in 2006. Roszkowski said he was mentally ill and that officials failed to order a competency exam. (Hearst Connecticut Media/Brian A. Pounds via AP, Pool, File)

Death sentence appeal rejected in triple murder case

July 23, 2018 - 2:20 pm

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut man who gunned down two adults and a 9-year-old girl on a city street has lost his attempt to have his former death sentence erased from the record in an effort to improve his life in prison.

The state Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal by Richard Roszkowski, who did not challenge the validity of his murder convictions but wanted the death sentence he received in 2014 declared null and void. Some issues in the appeal were moot because the same court declared capital punishment in the state unconstitutional in 2015.

Nearly all the state's 11 former death row inmates have been resentenced to life in prison, not including Roszkowski. He'll still serve life in prison, but his public defender said changing the record to show he never should have been sentenced to death would free him from stricter conditions imposed on former death row inmates including solitary confinement.

Roszkowski was convicted in 2009 of capital felony and murder charges for fatally shooting his 39-year-old ex-girlfriend, Holly Flannery, her 9-year-old daughter, Kylie, and 38-year-old Thomas Gaudet on a Bridgeport street in 2006. Prosecutors say Kylie ran from the shooting, but Roszkowski chased her down and shot her as she begged for her life.

Police said Roszkowski stalked Flannery after she broke up with him and falsely believed she and Gaudet were romantically involved.

The case included a number of twists including an unsuccessful attempt by the Polish government to block the penalty phase of his trial. Polish officials called for a life prison sentence instead, saying Roszkowski is a dual citizen and there is no death penalty in Poland. Roszkowski's parents were Polish.

Roszkowski's public defender, Adele Patterson, argued in the appeal that Roszkowski never should have been subjected to the 2014 penalty phase — which resulted in the death sentence — because of a 2012 state law that abolished the death penalty, but only for future capital crimes.

Patterson argued that imposing a death sentence on Roszkowski after the 2012 law went into effect would be unconstitutional. In the 2015 ruling that abolished the death penalty, the Supreme Court said the 2012 law violated the rights of the inmates still facing execution.

Patterson also said a judge wrongly denied a request before the penalty phase for a competency evaluation of Roszkowski, whose public defenders during trial said he had a severe mental illness — paranoid delusion disorder. He was deemed incompetent at one point in the case, but later declared competent to stand trial after treatment and medication.

Patterson did not immediately return a message seeking comment Monday.

State prosecutors said the only action needed in Roszkowski's case was for a judge to resentence him to life in prison without the possibility of release.

The Supreme Court rejected Roszkowski's challenges against the penalty phase and said he is entitled to be resentenced to life in prison without release.

"The defendant's challenges to his death sentence and to the procedures by which that sentence was imposed are moot, insofar as prevailing on them can afford him no additional relief," Justice Richard Palmer wrote in the ruling.

The court, however, did agree with Roszkowski on one issue in the appeal and ordered his three murder convictions to be vacated. The court said his convictions on both types of murder charges — capital felony and murder — violated the double jeopardy clause of the U.S. Constitution.