When Gerard "Chappy" Chapdelaine was arrested in October after an altercation with his teenage girlfriend, he turned to his longtime lawyer Wesley Spears for help.
Spears leveled with him. Because of his long history of convictions related to family violence and violations of probation, Chapdelaine, 39, could expect to be going away for a while."You are going to jail. And not for 90 days this time. It could be as long as two years," Spears said he told Chapdelaine.
Spears says Chapdelaine had no intention of going back to jail - he had served 88 days of a 90-day sentence for violating probation earlier in the year - particularly when, in his view, his problems with the women involved were not of his making.
"He felt he was the victim. He definitely blamed the women. His voice was raised and agitated," Spears recalled.
Chapdelaine, who lived with his aunt on Bolton Street in Hartford, decided to take matters into his own hands a day before he was due back in court.
On the evening of Nov. 5, armed with a rusty handgun, he went next door to confront his girlfriend, Jahmesha Williams, the mother of his 3-month-old son, and her mother, Lorna Coley, who he believed was trying to break them up.
He showed up in their driveway, waving the gun. Hartford police came, combed the neighborhood for him and towed his car but could not find him. They then left, over the pleas from the mother and daughter.
Chapdelaine returned close to midnight, broke inside, shot Coley, 47, in the head, and walked out of the house with blood on his hands and face. About an hour later, Wethersfield police saw him walking back and forth across the Silas Deane Highway. When the officers got closer, he fired the gun at them twice, and they shot and killed him. Besides his 3-month-old son, he left the 11-year-old daughter he'd had with another girlfriend.
Almost immediately after the double shootings, family members of Coley and Chapdelaine, his lawyers and law enforcement officials were asking why. What pushed him over the edge? Why this time did he decide to use a gun to resolve his problems? Those who knew him well admit that the slight-framed appliance delivery man with dark hair and a troubled childhood always had difficulty letting go of his relationships with women, especially the mothers of his children.
There was also another question: Why wasn't Chapdelaine behind bars after he was arrested in October while out on lengthy probation from other family-violence convictions?
On Sept. 30, there had been a fight with Williams - there was evidence of scratches and punches exchanged - outside a Berlin Turnpike motel. Newington police arrived and arrested Williams on the spot after determining she had violated a restraining order and angrily struck Chapdelaine's car with a child car seat.
Chapdelaine, who left the scene, had also violated the order, and was arrested a week later. He was freed on bail, even though his arrest violated his probation.
The explanation from state Office of Adult Probation: The paperwork that would have placed him in violation had not been completed.
A TROUBLED HISTORY
Dawn Carl first encountered her biological brother, Gerard, six years ago. She and the man she called her "Little Brudder" met over the Internet and, in the course of the next several years, she became a trusted confidant.
"He was angry about his past," Carl said. Chapdelaine, she said, would call her at her Florida home when he was having trouble with one of his girlfriends and risked a bad breakup.
He had reason to get angry when he felt abandoned, she said.
Chapdelaine was 3 years old when a question about his paternity split up his parents. He and his brother were placed in foster care, she said. At some point his father returned to picked up his brother but left him behind.