Homicide

Connecticut's highest court overturns death penalty in state, says it's unconstitutional

FILE - This undated inmate photo released by the Connecticut Department of Correction shows Eduardo Santiago, who was sentenced to lethal injection for the murder-for-hire killing of 45-year-old Joseph Niwinski in West Hartford in 2000.   Connecticut's Supreme Court will release a decision Thursday Aug. 13, 2015, in a case that could decide the fate of the 10 inmates currently on death row in the state. It comes in an appeal from Santiago, whose attorneys argue lawmakers improperly passed a death penalty repeal three years ago that only outlawed capital punishment for future crimes. (Connecticut Department of Correction via AP, File)

FILE - This undated inmate photo released by the Connecticut Department of Correction shows Eduardo Santiago, who was sentenced to lethal injection for the murder-for-hire killing of 45-year-old Joseph Niwinski in West Hartford in 2000. Connecticut's Supreme Court will release a decision Thursday Aug. 13, 2015, in a case that could decide the fate of the 10 inmates currently on death row in the state. It comes in an appeal from Santiago, whose attorneys argue lawmakers improperly passed a death penalty repeal three years ago that only outlawed capital punishment for future crimes. (Connecticut Department of Correction via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

Connecticut's highest court has overturned the death penalty in the state, saying it's unconstitutional.

Thursday's ruling could mean that the 11 men on the state's death row would no longer be subject to execution orders. Those inmates include Joshua Komisarjevsky (koh-mih-sar-JEV'-skee) and Steven Hayes, who were sentenced to die n for killing a mother and her two daughters in a 2007 home invasion in Cheshire.

The state had passed a law in 2012 to repeal the death penalty only for future crimes.

The ruling comes in an appeal from Eduardo Santiago, whose attorneys had argued that any execution carried out after repeal would constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Santiago faced the possibility of lethal injection for a 2000 murder-for-hire killing in West Hartford.