Five Connecticut death row inmates are suing the state to get their sentences overturned because they argue race and geographic bias played a part in their prosecution. Their lawsuit went to trial Wednesday at the Northern Correctional Institution in Somers.
The inmates cite a study that concluded that people of color accused of murdering white victims are three times more likely to receive a death sentence as defendants in white-on-white murder cases.
Chief State’s Attorney Kevin T. Kane is expected to be one of the first witnesses Wednesday in the long-awaited habeas corpus trial on claims by condemned killers that Connecticut’s death penalty is racially, ethnically and geographically biased.
Kane and other state prosecutors - including New Haven State’s Attorney Michael Dearington, who successfully sought the death penalty for Cheshire home invasion killers Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky - will likely testify about their decisions to pursue death by lethal injection for certain accused murderers, and sentences of life in prison for others.
Starting Wednesday and for several weeks, the judge, lawyers, court staff and witnesses in the case will travel to Northern Correctional Institution in Somers where the trial is being held in a prison dayroom. Northern houses Connecticut’s death row.