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Robert J. BRETON Sr.





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: 1966 / 1987
Date of birth: December 10, 1946
Victims profile: His father / His ex-wife, JoAnn Breton, 38, and their son, Robert Breton, Jr., 16
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Waterbury, Connecticut, USA
Status: Convicted in 1967 of manslaughter. Suspended sentence. Sentenced to death on October 27, 1989

Robert Breton, Sr. was sentenced to death in 1989. He was convicted of two counts of murder and one count of capital felony for the December 13, 1987 beating and stabbing deaths of his 38-year-old ex-wife, JoAnn Breton, and their 16-year-old son, Robert Breton, Jr.

In the early-morning of December 13, 1987, Robert Breton, Sr. entered the Waterbury apartment that his ex-wife rented after their divorce 11 months earlier. Surprising her while she slept, Breton slashed at her with a sharp, 5-inch knife and pounded her with his fists. JoAnn Breton scrambled across the room. Her ex-husband followed and killed her by thrusting the knife through her neck, opening a major artery.

Robert Breton, Jr. heard his mother's screams and ran into her room, where his father attacked him. Bleeding from his arms, hands, and fingers, the younger Breton tried to escape down a flight of stairs. But his father pursued him, overtaking him at the bottom of the staircase and continuing the attack. Robert, Jr. bled to death from a wound that severed his carotid artery. Police found him, clad only in his underwear, at the bottom of the stairs, his head propped against a wall.


Robert Breton Sr.

April 10, 1997

CONNECTICUT: Police who investigaged the murder of a woman and her 16-year-old son testified in a death penalty hearing Wednesday that the victims were covered in blood and that the killer left bloody shoe prints throughout their apartment.

The testimony came as prosecutors tried to show that Robert J. Breton Sr. murdered his ex-wife, JoAnn, and their son, Robert Jr., in an especially heinous and cruel manner.

Breton, 50, was convicted in 1989 of the murders and sentenced to die; 2 years ago, the Connecticut state Supreme Court upheld the conviction but overturned his death sentence, ruling there were ambiguities in the jury's instructions and in a form used by the jury. The case was sent back to a lower court for a new penalty phase that began Wednesday.

State's Attorney John A. Connelly is once again seeking the death penalty. He does not have to prove that Breton committed the crime, since that already has been proven.

Connelly must show the victims died cruelly or in an extraordinarily depraved manner. The 2 were stabbed several times and their throats were slashed. The walls and floors were splattered with blood, witnesses recalled. Connelly said after court ended that "we have to show there was an infliction of pain...above and beyond the ordinary that would have produced the killings."

The case is being heard by a 3-judge panel, rather than a jury this time. Judges Roland Fasano, Christine Vertefeuille, and Richard Damiani must decide whether Breton should be put to death.

Breton's lawyers, in the original trial, had sought to show the existence of 13 separate mitigating factors that would have spared their client the death penalty. Many dealt with Breton's mental state and a history of violence in his family.

Breton was convicted in 1967 of manslaughter in the stabbing death of his father. A judge in that case gave Breton a suspended sentence, ruling he may have acted in self-defense.

Defense attorney Barry Butler argued that his client should not be exposed to the death penalty because the state legislature did not specifically say that the murder of a child or the murder of more than 1 person at a time mandates a capital felony hearing.

But Connelly argued legislators did not specifically mention those crimes because they were presumed to be offenses that could warant such a hearing.



DISPOSITION: Suspended sentence for manslaughter, 1966; condemned, 1989.



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