Expectant mom’s killer, once condemned, collapses and dies


NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) – A former Connecticut death row inmate convicted of fatally stabbing a pregnant woman over a drug debt collapsed in prison Monday and died, according to prison officials.

Robert Courchesne, 57, was walking inside the Garner Correctional Center at about 10:35 a.m. when he collapsed, the Correction Department said in a release.

He was taken to Danbury Hospital and pronounced dead about an hour later.

Courchesne was convicted in 2004 and sentenced to death for killing Demetris Rodgers in Waterbury in 1998.

Rodgers was 8½ months pregnant when she was killed. Her baby, Antonia Rodgers, was delivered by emergency cesarean section minutes later, but the infant was pronounced dead after 42 days on life support.

Prosecutors had charged Courchesne with capital felony under the section of the statute that allowed the state to seek a death sentence when there is more than one victim.

The court upheld Courchesne’s conviction in the slaying of Demetris Rodgers but overturned his two capital felony convictions and his murder conviction for the baby’s death.

The court ruled prosecutors failed to prove during the trial that the baby’s brain was functioning when she was born.

Prosecutors decided to let Courchesne’s 60-year murder sentence stand rather than retry the capital case.

The state has since abolished the death penalty, although it still applies to inmates already on death row when the law was passed in 2012.

State police are investigating Courchesne’s death, but the Correction Department said it does not suspect he was the victim of foul play.

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