Bridgeport judge orders death penalty for Peeler
(12/10/07) BRIDGEPORT (AP) - A former drug dealer who ordered the killings of an 8-year-old boy and his mother in 1999 was formally sentenced to death at an emotionally charged hearing Monday. Russell Peeler Jr. was convicted in 2000 of ordering his younger brother to kill Karen Clarke and her son, Leroy "B.J." Brown Jr., in their Bridgeport duplex. The boy was expected to be the key witness against Peeler in the fatal shooting of Clarke's boyfriend. A jury of six men and six women decided in October that he should die for his crime. Superior Court Judge Robert Devlin Jr. formally imposed the death penalty Monday, making Peeler the ninth person on Connecticut's death row. "One can only imagine the stark terror experienced by Leroy Brown and Karen Clarke moments before their deaths," Devlin said. Peeler has been in prison since his arrest a few weeks after the killings. A previous jury deadlocked on the death penalty. Peeler's brother, Adrian, was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, despite being the accused shooter. Adrian Peeler was sentenced to 20 years in prison. During Monday's hearing, a shouting match broke out between Russell Peeler and Clarke's brother, Oswald Clarke. Clarke described the impact of the crime, saying Peeler did not just kill his sister and nephew, but also devastated his mother. "He killed my mother. She died two years ago," Clarke said. "He doesn't deserve any more time. He doesn't deserve to live any more. My only regret right now is his brother is not here with him." Peeler responded by shouting, "I did nothing to your family.
"You need to be quiet," Clarke said.
"This ain't no show. See you later," Peeler replied. Peeler, who has maintained his innocence, complained about what he said was ineffective assistance by his attorneys. "I had nothing to do with killing these people," he said in court. "I feel bad for what happened."
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