Todd Rizzo – white, age 18 (re-sentence after appellate reversal)
Sentenced to death in New Haven, Connecticut
By: A 3-judge panel after defendant waived jury sentencing
Date of crime: 9/30/1997
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Rizzo lured his 13-year-old neighbor to his backyard by telling him they were going to look for snakes. Rizzo then beat Stanley Edwards to death with a sledge hammer and dumped his body in a wooded lot. After police found a blood smear in his car, Rizzo confessed to the murder, showed police where he killed Edwards, gave police the murder weapon and clothes he was wearing at the time, and led police to Edwards’ body. Rizzo said he killed Edwards because he wanted to know what it was like to kill someone. Rizzo pled guilty and was sentenced to death by a jury. After an appellate reversal, Rizzo opted for a 3-judge panel to decide his sentence. During mitigation, the defense presented evidence of Rizzo being abused at his school, an unsupervised childhood, and past good deeds.
Prosecutor(s): John Connelly
Defense lawyer(s): David Channing, Ronald Gold
Sources: AP Alert – CT 5/17/2005 (5/17/2005 APALERTCT 05:33:30), 6/2/2005 (6/2/2005 APALERTCT 11:17:22), 6/3/2005 (6/3/2005 APALERTCT 12:02:43); Hartford Courant 6/24/2005 (LEXIS USPAPR file).
Eduardo Santiago Jr. – Latino, age 20
Sentenced to death in Hartford County, Connecticut
By: A jury
Date of crime: 12/2000
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Mark Pascual wanted to hire someone to kill Joseph Niwinski because of an obsession Pascual had with Niwinski’s girlfriend. Santiago agreed to kill Niwinski in exchange for a snowmobile and his credit cards being paid off. Santiago enlisted the help of a friend, Matthew Tyrell, to kill Niwinski. Santiago, Pascual, and Tyrell went to Niwinski’s apartment. Santiago and Tyrell broke into the apartment, found Niwinski sleeping, and Santiago shot Niwinski in the back of his head. Pascual and Tyrell confessed and testified against Santiago. In the penalty phase, the defense presented evidence of an abusive childhood and lack of criminal record.
Prosecutor(s): John Fahey, Donna Mambrino Defense lawyers(s): Kevin Randolph, John Franckling
Sources: Hartford Courant 8/6/2004, 8/11/2004, 9/1/2004, 12/15/2004