Richard Damiani, 66, Connecticut jurist

NORTH HAVEN, Conn. — Superior Court Judge Richard Damiani, who presided over some of ­Connecticut’s highest-profile cases during a career that lasted almost three decades, died Monday. He was 66 and had been hospitalized since being found unconscious in his home on Sunday.

Judge Damiani served the courts for 26 years, most recently as the presiding criminal judge in Waterbury Superior Court. He had also served in superior courts in Ansonia, Bridgeport, Meriden, New ­Haven, and Hartford.

‘‘Judge Damiani epitomized everything a judge should be and was a wonderful person on every level,’’ Robert Serafinowicz, a criminal defense lawyer, told the Republican-American newspaper. ‘‘ I consider myself lucky to have known him and value everything he taught me.’’


Judge Damiani was a member of the panel that sentenced Robert J. Breton Sr. to death in 1997 for the murder of his 38-year-old former wife and their 16-year-old son in Waterbury.

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He also issued a key ruling in the death-penalty case of Robert Courchesne, convicted of capital felony in the 1998 stabbing deaths of Demetris Rodgers and the child she had carried 8½ months.

Judge Damiani ruled in 1999 that though Antonia Rodgers was fatally injured before birth, Courchesne could be charged with murdering her because she lived for 42 days.

He gained a reputation as one of the state’s hardest-working judges, keeping full calendars and not tolerating tardiness from attorneys.

‘‘Whoever said the wheels of justice turn slowly never met Richard Damiani,’’ Bridgeport State’s ­Attorney John Smriga told the Connecticut Post.