Russell Peeler Gets The Max

A Connecticut man was sentenced to 105 years in prison Friday for a murder that prosecutors say was witnessed by eight-year-old Leroy Brown.

Brown and his mother, 29-year-old Karen Clarke, were shot to death on Jan. 8. Witnesses told the court the two were killed to keep them from testifying against Russell Peeler, charged with the initial slaying.

An angry judge gave Peeler the maximum sentence Friday morning for his conviction on charges of murder, attempted murder and risk of injury to minors in the May 29, 1998, shooting death of Rudolph Sneed. At the time of that shooting, which occurred in a barber shop, Peeler was awaiting trial on charges of attempting to murder Snead in another incident.

The judge told the court he did not see any redeeming qualities in Peeler to even consider giving him a break.

"He doesn't deserve any consideration," Superior Court Judge G. Sarsfield Ford said at the sentencing. "He cannot be expected to be rehabilitated and be put back on the street and stay away from the criminal element. ... I'd be a fool to expect that."

Peeler was arrested soon after Brown and his mother were shot to death.

Brown was to have been a witness in Peeler's trial, but he and his mother were gunned down in an ambush killing in their home.

Peeler's brother Adrian also faces murder charges in connection with the killings of the boy and his mother. Both men pleaded not guilty to killing the two witnesses.

The slayings prompted sharp criticism of Connecticut's witness protection program.