Jessie Campbell III – age 20

Sentenced to death in Hartford, Connecticut
By: A judge.
Date of crime: August 26, 2000
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Jessie Campbell shot the mother of his son while she was visiting a friend’s home. After shooting his estranged girlfriend, he turned the gun on her friend and the friend’s aunt. Only the aunt survived the shootings by cowering below Campbell and pretending to be dead. After the murders, Campbell burned the clothes he was wearing and fled to Michigan. He was captured shortly after and brought back to Connecticut for the murders. Defense attempted to establish that Campbell’s father was addicted to crack and negatively influenced Campbell’s upbringing. Other evidence demonstrated that Campbell possessed an I.Q. of 78. Campbell’s defense team also stated they were going to challenge lethal injection as cruel and unusual punishment and attack the “capricious and arbitrary” manner in which prosecutors elect to seek a capital conviction.
Prosecutor(s): Vicki Mechiorre and Dennis O’Connor
Defense lawyer(s): David Smith and Ronald Gold
Sources: The Hartford Courant 8/18/2007 (2007 WLNR 16182886), 8/17/2007 (2007 WLNR 16017106); AP Alert – Connecticut 8/17/2007

Russell Peeler, Jr. – age 27

Sentenced to death in Bridgeport, Connecticut
By: A judge.
Date of crime: January 7, 1999
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Russell Peeler was arrested for the murder of local man. The only witnesses against him were the victim’s girlfriend and her 8 year-old son. During his incarceration prior to beginning his murder trial, Peeler ordered his brother Adrian to execute the two witnesses against him. Adrian followed the orders, killing the woman and her son in their apartment. Peeler has denied ordering the witnesses killed throughout the proceedings and maintains his innocence of the charges. Peeler’s primary defense after the jury found him guilty has been to claim ineffective assistance of counsel. Prosecution established that Peeler was especially cold-blooded and did not come from a disadvantaged background. Peeler had recently received $50,000 in life insurance proceeds from the death of his mother. Peeler is the only death row inmate in Connecticut that did not actually kill the victims that led to his death sentence.
Prosecutor(s): Jonathan Benedict
Defense lawyer(s): Jeffrey Beck and Erskine McIntosh
Sources: The Stamford Advocate 12/11/2007 (2007 WLNR 24412865); AP Alert – Connecticut 12/11/2007; The Hartford Courant 12/11/2007 (2007 WLNR 24462430)