NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) -- A New Haven man is on a mission to get justice for people who were executed when our country was in its infancy.
"Connecticut was the first state to execute anybody for witchcraft," said Tony Grieco, of New Haven.
Retired New Haven Police Sergeant Tony Grieco is trying to get the state to pardon or clear the names of 11 people executed in the 1600's for witchcraft in Connecticut.
Grieco says many of the so-called witches were tried, convicted, and executed at the old State House in Hartford. The first one was hung from a tree and buried in a hole back in 1647.
"We feel that they were wrongly accused and executed," said Grieco, "and all we are looking for is to have their names cleared. These people were not afforded a Christian burial."
Grieco says he had done a lot of research into the witch trials, and even drafted a sample proclamation for the Governor to sign. It talks about exonerating those who were declared witches and hung in Hartford. And while the State House executions happened more than 300 years ago, their names should be cleared because of a flawed trial process.
"It was a legal process they went through," said Grieco. "Most of the people who were accused had no defense attorneys, their trails were based on accusation from neighbors."
Wednesday night News 8 did receive a statement from the Governor. In it he says he appreciates how passionate the people are, but he will not be issuing a proclamation because the Governor doesn't have authority under the state constitution or state statutes to exonerate or clear individuals of their past conduct. He says it's up to the legislature to do that.
"He feels you should take it up with the legislature," said News 8's Bob Wilson.
"We did and they never voted on it," Grieco said. "They heard testimony for 45 minutes, they ran out of time and they never voted on it."
Grieco says other states like Massachusetts have pardoned, and he vows to keep up the fight.
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