Ex-death row inmate’s rape, murder conviction overturned

August 7, 2020 GMT

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A former death-row inmate’s conviction in the rape and killing of a woman in Connecticut was overturned by the state Supreme Court, which ruled his rights were violated when he made admissions to a fellow prisoner.

In a decision released Thursday afternoon, the Connecticut Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Lazale Ashby, now 35, for the Dec. 2, 2002 rape, kidnapping and killing of Elizabeth Garcia in Hartford, the Hartford Courant reported.


Prosecutors plan to retry Ashby.

The court found that Ashby was entitled to representation by a lawyer when speaking with the other inmate, Kenneth Pladsen, because Pladsen had previously communicated with authorities about getting Ashby to incriminate himself.

The finding overruled Judge Carmen Espinosa, who had concluded during the trial that Pladsen acted on his own and not at the direction of now-retired Hartford police Det. Andrew Weaver, with whom he had previously conversed, when he coaxed Ashby into incriminating himself.

Ashby was previously sentenced to death after being convicted of multiple crimes. His sentence was later changed to life without the possibility of release, plus 125 years, after the Supreme Court abolished the state’s death penalty in 2015.

Ashby is also serving a 25-year sentence in another case — for murder in the fatal shooting of Nahshon Cohen, 22, on Sept. 1, 2003.

Prosecutor John Fahey told the Courant on Thursday that the state will try Ashby again for the rape, kidnapping and killing of Garcia.

“The state has every intention of retrying Mr. Ashby in accordance with the Supreme Court’s decision,” he said.