HARTFORD, CONN. – Federal Prosecutors are no longer seeking the death penalty in the re-sentencing of Azibo Aquart, a Connecticut crack cocaine dealer convicted in relation to the killings of three people beaten to death in a turf dispute.
According to a document filed Tuesday, representatives from the US Attorney’s Office notified Aquart’s legal team of the decision late last month.
Aquart was convicted in 2005 for ordering the killings of Tina Johnson, James Reid, and Basil Williams. The three were beaten to death with baseball bats and found restrained with duct tape in Johnson’s apartment. Aquart was sentenced in 2012, becoming the first from Connecticut to be on Federal Death Row.
An appeals court reversed the sentence after finding prosecutor misconduct during the cross-examination of an FBI agent. Aquart’s charges were upheld. He now faces up to life in prison.
Federal prosecutors say Ms. Johnson had been selling crack cocaine on Aquart’s turf at the Charles Street Apartments without his knowledge. Aquart and his associates allegedly ruled over the apartments with an iron-fist, physically harming anyone who came in their way.
Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer spoke after Aquart was sentenced to death.
“Azibo Aquart carried out heinous crimes, and committed horrific acts of violence,” he said. “There is no joy on this day — only the recognition that we must continue not only to seek justice for victims of violent crime, but also to do all we can to prevent and deter drug trafficking and the terror that so often accompanies it.”
Last July, federal executions resumed at an order from former-president Donald Trump. Trump oversaw the most federal executions since Grover Cleveland in 1896, a 125-year record. Newly-elected President Joe Biden has publicly opposed the Death Penalty and is the first president to feature death penalty abolition as a part of his platform.
Apart from Aquart’s case, there are currently three defendants in pending federal cases who could face the death penalty, however, no prosecutors are currently seeking the death penalty according to a spokesperson for the US Attorney’s Office.