By Len Suzio
Mr. Suzio was State Senator for the district in which the vicious murder below occurred. Connecticut Commentary has followed the story through all its permutations.
Many of you may remember the cold blooded murder of Ibrahim Ghazal, an innocent 70 year-old store owner in Meriden at the end of June 2012. That story became a sensation because the murder was videotaped by the store security and because the man accused of the murder was a hardened criminal who had been released early from his prison sentence courtesy of Connecticut's "Early Release" law. The video showed Mr. Ghazal handing over the money without resistance and then a person later identified as Frankie Resto shooting him at point blank range.
As the prosecutor prepared the case for trial a plea bargain deal was floated in front of Mr. Resto. The "deal" would have potentially reduced the sentence Mr. Resto would incur from a maximum of 80 years to only 40 years in exchange for a guilty plea. Mr. Resto eventually declined the deal. That's where the "trail of the trial" takes a strange twist.
Only two months after refusing to accept a potential plea bargain that potentially would reduce his sentence to 40 years, Frankie "The Razor" Resto's attorney announced that he would plead "no contest" to the charges without any plea bargain agreement. The attorney said he client had a "change of heart". Apparently his client's "change of heart" was not enough to make him acknowledge his guilt and change his plea to guilty. No, "The Razor" will not admit his guilt, but he will acknowledge the state has ample evidence to convict him of the murder.
Which leads to the question, "Why would a violent criminal refuse a possible plea bargain deal that potentially could have cut his prison sentence in half and then, 2 months later, announce he would not fight the charges and thereby potentially face a prison sentence of as much as 80 years?" Was this a true change of heart by a hardened criminal ready to accept responsibility and pay the price for the senseless murder of his victim? If this really reflected a change of Frankie Resto's hardened heart, why didn't he plead guilty and acknowledge his crime? Wouldn't a truly repentant criminal at least acknowledge his guilt by pleading guilty? How can anyone repent from a crime they won't admit they committed in the first place? Wouldn't a truly reformed criminal want to give the victim's family the peace of mind and satisfaction of the acknowledgement of guilt?
What does this really mean? Could there be something more than meets the eye in the trial developments of Frankie Resto? Could there be "politics" going on behind the scenes? A trial of Frankie the Razor Resto for the vicious and cold blooded murder of Ibrahim Ghazal would be a daily reminder on the front page of every newspaper and on every TV station not only of the brutal murder of Ibrahim Ghazal but also of the liberal law that opened wide the prison gates allowing "The Razor" to leave his prison cell early.
A sensational trial of a cold blooded murder is the last thing the Malloy Administration would want in the months leading up to the 2014 election. A full murder trial would constantly blare the news to the people of Connecticut that the accused murderer should have been in prison had it not been for the "Early Release" law championed by the Malloy Administration. No, the political cost of this trial would indeed be damaging, perhaps fatally, to the Malloy Administration.
Could it be that an "unofficial understanding" may have been offered to the criminal caught killing on camera. "You don't have to plead guilty. Just plead 'no contest' and we will take care of you", is all that may need to have been said with a wink of an eye by an Administration official in the "Criminal Justice" Department. And that would be a better bet for a reduced sentence than defending a cold blooded killing caught on camera for all to see.
Maybe this is just too cynical, but then again, the Malloy Administration was cynical enough to pass a law known as "Early Release" and then insist the "Early Release" law let criminals out of jail not early, but late! Now there is real cynicism.
Is this the real scenario going on behind the scenes? We'll have a good idea come February 28, the date for the hearing for Frankie Resto's prison sentence for murder and armed robbery. Anything less than the maximum sentence would suggest cynicism is appropriate.