NEW LONDON, CT – A jury in New London Superior Court found Jean Jacques guilty Monday of murdering Casey Chadwick, 25, in her Norwich apartment on June 15, 2015.
The verdict brought the victim’s parents, boyfriend and close friends to tears.
The jury had started deliberating at 2 p.m. on Friday and sent a note out at 12:25 p.m. Monday that it had reached a verdict.
“I was pretty confident, but there was still that little bit of, ‘What if?'” said Chadwick’s mother, Wendy Hartling.
She had been shaken during the trial by crime scene photos showing the violent death of her daughter, whose body was found in a closet with stab wounds to the head and neck.
Hartling said her daughter would still be alive if immigration officials had deported Jacques, a Haitian national, after his 1997 conviction for attempted murder and carrying a pistol without a permit.
“He was supposed to be deported, and ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) let him go,” said Hartling. “They didn’t even try. If they did their job, Casey would be here.”
Jacques faces up to 60 years in prison when Judge Barbara Bailey Jongbloed sentences him on June 6.
Evidence at the trial revealed that Chadwick’s stabbing death was likely motivated by drugs.
Police found crack cocaine, marijuana and Chadwick’s cellphone, all linked to Chadwick’s apartment, in a hole in the bathroom wall in Jacques’ apartment.
Chadwick’s boyfriend, Jean Joseph, had admitted from the witness stand that he was selling drugs.
“I think he did it over the drugs,” Hartling said. “I know my daughter. She’s very feisty and probably put up a fight. It wasn’t worth it. I wish she hadn’t.”
Investigators also linked Jacques to the crime through DNA evidence and text messages.
“I’m just glad justice was served,” said Crysta Wydra, Chadwick’s best friend and the last person to receive a text message from her at 12:40 a.m.
Though the exact time of Chadwick’s death had not been established, Jacques had written a letter to a friend that said she died at 3 a.m.
Prosecutor David J. Smith, who had tried the case with Inspector Rhett D’Amico, said it appeared the 12-member jury had paid close attention to the evidence.
He said he hopes Chadwick’s family can begin to move on.
Her mother, father and stepmother had attended the two-week trial along with several close friends.
“It’s a tragedy all the way around,” Smith said.
Jacques has maintained his innocence and is planning to appeal, according to his attorney, Sebastian O. DeSantis.
“He didn’t do this crime,” said DeSantis, who had attempted to convince the jury that somebody else had killed Chadwick.
Members of the Survivors of Homicide support group sat with Chadwick’s family throughout the trial.
Attorney Chester W. Fairlie, a longtime leader of the support group, is working with the family on an investigation of the immigration policy that allowed Jacques to remain in the United States after serving 16 years in prison in connection with a shooting on Laurel Hill Avenue in Norwich.