October 22, 2013
Michael O. Sheehan, with whom was Richard A. Reeve, for the
Timothy J. Sugrue, assistant state’s attorney, and
Harry Weller, senior assistant state’s attorney, with
whom, on the brief, were Kevin T. Kane, chief state’s
attorney, Matthew A. Weiner, assistant state’s
attorney, and Michael E. O’Hare, former senior
assistant state’s attorney, for the appellee
R. Metcalf and Constance de la Vega, pro hac vice, filed a
brief for certain experts on international human rights and
comparative law as amici curiae.
V. Hernandez and Brian W. Stull filed a brief for certain
legal historians and scholars as amici curiae.
Rogers, C. J., and Palmer, Eveleigh, McDonald, Espinosa and
petitioner, Daniel Webb, raises the following two claims on
appeal: (1) whether the habeas court properly denied his
petition for a writ of habeas corpus; and (2) whether the
legislature’s prospective repeal of the death penalty
in No. 12-5 of the 2012 Public Acts (P.A. 12-5) rendered the
death penalty, as applied to the petitioner and other
defendants sentenced to death for capital felonies committed
prior to the effective date of P.A. 12-5, unconstitutional
under the state and federal constitutions. The
petitioner’s second claim is governed by this
court’s decisions in State v.
Santiago, 318 Conn. 1, 9–10, 119, 122 A.3d 1
(2015), and State v. Peeler, 321 Conn. 375,
377, A.3d (2016), in which this court concluded and
reaffirmed, respectively, that the imposition of the death
penalty on defendants sentenced to death for capital felonies
committed before the effective date of P.A. 12-5 would be
unconstitutional under the Connecticut constitution.
Accordingly, we conclude that the judgment of the habeas
court must be reversed on this ground and that the case must
be remanded to the habeas court with direction to order the
trial court to resentence the defendant according to law.
record reveals the following procedural history. After a jury
trial, the petitioner was found guilty of capital felony and
other crimes arising from, inter alia, the kidnapping and
murder of the victim in the city of Hartford in
1989. See State v. Webb, 238
Conn. 389, 392–94, 397–98, 680 A.2d 147 (1996).
After a separate penalty phase hearing before the same jury,
the petitioner was sentenced to death. Id., 394,
396. The petitioner appealed to this court from his
conviction and death sentence. Id., 392–94.
This court affirmed the judgment of the trial court in all
respects but remanded the case to the trial court for
consideration of the petitioner’s claim, raised for the
first time on appeal, that death by lethal injection
constitutes cruel and unusual punishment under the state
constitution. See id., 396– 97, 488–89,
551. On remand, the trial court concluded that the petitioner
had failed to satisfy his burden of proving that death by
lethal injection is unconstitutional. See State v.
Webb, Superior Court, judicial district of Hartford,
Docket No. HHD-CR-50492 (July 7, 1998) (22 Conn.L.Rptr. 369,
370). The petitioner appealed again to this court, and we
again affirmed the judgment of the trial court. State
v. Webb, 252 Conn. 128, 130, 147, 750 A.2d 448,
cert. denied, 531 U.S. 835, 121 S.Ct. 93, 148 L.Ed.2d 53
(2000). Thereafter, the petitioner filed a petition for a
writ of habeas corpus in which he raised several challenges
to his death sentence. The habeas court denied the petition. This
appeal followed.After the appeal was filed, we granted
permission to the petitioner to file a supplemental brief on
the issue of whether the legislature’s enactment of
P.A. 12-5 rendered the death penalty, as applied to him and
other defendants sentenced to death for capital crimes
committed before the effective date of the legislation,
unconstitutional under the state and federal constitutions.
this appeal was pending, this court issued its decision in
Santiago, in which a majority of this court
concluded that the enactment of P.A. 12-5 rendered the death
penalty unconstitutional under the state constitution with
respect to defendants who had been sentenced to death for
capital felonies committed before the effective date of the
legislation. See State v. Santiago, supra,
318 Conn. 9–10, 119. In Peeler, a majority of
this court concluded that the decision in Santiago
should be upheld. See State v. Peeler,
supra, 321 Conn. 377. Accordingly, we agree with the
defendant that the death penalty is unconstitutional as
applied to him and that his petition for a writ of habeas
corpus should be granted on that ground. We therefore reverse
the judgment of the habeas court denying the
petitioner’s habeas petition and remand the case to
that court with direction to render judgment granting the
petition and to order the trial court to resentence the
petitioner according to law.
judgment is reversed and the case is remanded with direction
to render judgment granting the petition for a writ of habeas
corpus and to order the trial court to resentence the
petitioner according to law.
ESPINOSA, J., dissenting.
respectfully disagree and note that my opinions as expressed
in my dissent in State v. Santiago, 318 Conn. 1,
388, 122 A.3d 1 (2015), and my dissent in State v.