High Court Declines Appeal of Murderer Studying to Be Priest


This Dec. 13, 2018 photo shows Jan Gawlik during his sentencing for the murder of his father in Hartford, Conn. Gawlik, who says he is studying to become a Roman Catholic priest, has lost his legal fight against state prison officials he accused of violating his constitutional rights by blocking his orders of used religious books and other materials. (Hartford Courant/Pool via AP)
By 
David Pitt
The Associated Press

A convicted murderer in Connecticut who says he is studying to become a Roman Catholic priest has lost his legal fight against state prison officials he accused of violating his constitutional rights by blocking his orders of used religious books and other materials.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear Jan Gawlik’s appeal of a Connecticut Appellate Court ruling, which upheld a state judge’s decision that found Gawlik’s rights were not violated and that he could have ordered new books.

Gawlik, 56, is serving a 60-year prison sentence for killing and dismembering his 90-year-old father, Jozef Gawlik, in New Britain in 2011. He has said he was possessed by Satan and high on cocaine when he killed his father but has since dedicated his life to God and wants to become a priest.

Representing himself in the court cases, Gawlik argued that prison officials violated his constitutional rights, including freedom of religion, by blocking his orders of used religious books, prayers cards and other materials. In his application to the Supreme Court to hear his appeal, he described himself as a “self studying future Catholic priest.”

Connecticut prisons have a policy that bans inmates from receiving books that are not in “new condition” and requires them to order books directly from publishers, book clubs and bookstores, in an effort to stop contraband from coming into prisons. Gawlik sought to overturn the used book ban in the court cases.

In his application to the Supreme Court, he said he bought used books that are no longer in print from a publisher that specializes in Catholic academic books.

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