[Deathpenalty]death penalty news --- CONN.
j_sommer at gmx.net
Wed Jul 7 21:42:19 CDT 2004
death penalty news
July 7, 2004
Federal jury spares Hartford drug dealer the death penalty
A federal jury Wednesday spared a Hartford drug dealer the death penalty
for the murder-for-hire killing of a drug rival.
Wilfredo Perez, 37, embraced his lawyers and supporters after U.S. District
Judge Janet Bond Arterton endorsed the decision to impose a life sentence.
A jury of nine women and three men deliberated for about six hours over two
days to reach the verdict. It was the first time a federal jury in
Connecticut had considered the death penalty against a defendant since
Congress expanded the list of capital offenses 10 years ago.
U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Connor said he respects the jury's verdict.
"He's still going to serve four life terms, so it's still a very long
penalty," O'Connor said.
Perez was convicted last week four federal counts for hiring hit men from
New York to kill Theodore "Teddy" Casiano in Hartford in 1996.
Perez had a big cocaine selling network, and Casiano has moved in on his
turf, prosecutors said. Casiano was shot several times as he sat in a car
in Hartford. The hit cost Perez $6,000.
His lawyers, Michael Sheehan and Richard Reeve, said the case never should
have been a death penalty offense, since the prosecutors' case was weak and
based on the word of people took plea deals and got reduced charges.
"We're very pleased the jury was unanimous in their decision and we're
extremely disgusted with the attorney general that this case was ever
brought as a death penalty case," Sheehan said.
The same jury that found Perez should get life in prison convicted him June
29 of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, interstate travel to commit
murder-for-hire, a racketeering offense and a firearms offense.
Sentencing was scheduled for Sept. 16.
Perez is one of five people charged in Casiano's death. His brother, Jose
Antonio Perez, was convicted on the same charges and has been sentenced to
life in prison.
The alleged hit man, Fausto Gonzalez, is scheduled to go on trial in September.
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