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FOX61 EXCLUSIVE: Man convicted of deadly arson in Branford released from prison; victim’s family speaks out

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HARTFORD --  In March of 2006, Kathleen Hardy died as result of smoke inhalation on the second floor of a beach house in Branford.

The death, which was deemed a homicide, was the result of a fire that police say was an arson.

The case of Hardy stood cold for many years. But in 2015, the US Attorney’s Office indicted and convicted John Vailette of the arson murder after a witness testified against him. The witness was a prisoner himself, serving time on unrelated charges.

But in August of 2018, the US Attorney’s Office asked to have the murder conviction dismissed, and Vailette walked last week.

The case was dismissed after prosecutors from the Connecticut State’s Attorney’s Office failed to provide key evidence to the US Attorneys who were prosecuting Vailette. In a motion filed on Monday by US Attorney John Durham, “the post-trial discovery of certain materials, relating to a prosecution witness that should have been disclosed.”

What the US Attorney’s and Vailette’s defense team did not know at the time of the trial, was that the witness had asked for benefits or favor from Connecticut Prosecutors in exchange for testifying against Vailette in Federal Court.

This information, and written letters from the witness to the Connecticut States Attorney’s office came to light, and then was dismissed. The witness never received any benefit or favor for testifying.

Kathy Hardy’s son, who was 10 when his mother was murdered, has been dealing with this for too long.

Since then, the guilty verdict has been reversed, and John Vailette has got a mistrial, the federal government in conjunction with the state attorney’s office has decided to not push forward in retrying the case. So, in layman terms, it means you can never be tried again for the same crime. And virtually, he is walking off scot free.

Hardy was asked how he felt the investigation was handled.

“Egregiously, in my eyes, or any practical person's eyes, the case wasn’t investigated the way it should’ve been.”

In a case riddled with so many question marks, the family only wants one thing.

“What I want is the truth. I want somebody talk to me like I’m a human being, and understand where I’m coming from, at the end of the day all I care about is knowing what happened in making sure it never happens again.”

At the time of her murder, Hardy, an addict, was working for police as a confidential informant.

Dawn Luddy, Kathy’s sister has been watching the investigation has been watching over the case for a dozen years.

“I have a problem that Kathy was a certified informant, and the day before her murder the two undercover detectives that she was working with, were at her house to question Kathy about a missing person. And that they both said on the stand, that when they walked out, they were afraid for her life. They left her there, she was dead in the morning," said Luddy.

Luddy wants one thing.

“An investigation to see what’s going on, if there’s mishandling of the case, if there’s some cops that aren’t on the up and up and if there’s some corruption going on.”

One thing is clear, mistakes were made between the Connecticut State’s Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s. And for that, they owe the family an investigation into the many issues lying in the periphery of this rare federal homicide investigation.

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