Judge Denies Early Prison Release In Boy Witness Murder Case

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut man convicted in the 1999 killings of an 8-year-old murder witness and the boy's mother will not be getting out of prison anytime soon, a federal judge ruled Tuesday amid pleas by the victims' relatives and prosecutors to keep him locked up.

Adrian Peeler sought a sentence reduction under a national criminal justice reform that would have made him a free man as early as next month. But Judge Janet Bond Arterton in New Haven rejected that request, Hearst Connecticut media reported. Arterton said Peeler has shown no remorse for the killings.

Peeler was sentenced to 25 years in prison on a state murder conspiracy charge in the killings of Karen Clarke and her son, Leroy “B.J.” Brown, in Bridgeport. That sentence is scheduled to end as early as Dec. 12, but he would be immediately transferred to federal prison to begin serving a 35-year consecutive prison sentence for a federal drug dealing conviction.

Arterton, however, did reduce the federal sentence to 15 years to reflect current sentencing guidelines, and made it consecutive to the state sentence.

Peeler asked Arterton to change the federal sentence to time served in state prison under the federal 2018 First Step Act, which gives judges more discretion when sentencing some drug offenders and eases mandatory minimum sentences.

"I take full responsibility for all my actions that led me to be here today,” Peeler told Arterton. “I sold drugs in the community. … It is something I think of every day.”

Clarke's brother, Oswald Clarke, pleaded with the judge to deny the sentence reduction.

“He had zero compassion for my sister and nephew," he said. "This man should not be on the streets. He will kill again.”

Prosecutors have said Peeler, at the direction of his older brother, Russell Peeler, gunned down B.J. and Clarke in their Bridgeport home on Jan. 7, 1999. Authorities said the brothers wanted to eliminate B.J. as a witness against Russell Peeler in the 1998 killing of Clarke’s boyfriend, Rudolph Snead, a rival drug dealer.

Russell Peeler is serving life in prison for the killings.