Dec. 9, 2011
A Connecticut jury condemned Joshua Komisarjevsky to death today during their fifth day of deliberations.
Komisarjevsky, 31, was found guilty on Oct. 13 of sexually assaulting and killing 11-year-old Michaela Petit and murdering 17-year-old Hayley Petit and Jennifer Hawke-Petit. In all, Komisarjevsky was convicted of six capital offenses.
Judge Jon C. Blue will officially sentence Komisarjevsky Jan. 27.
His accomplice, Steven Hayes, was sentenced to death last year. He is currently on Connecticut’s death row.
Dr. William Petit, the lone survivor of the 2007 attack, was sitting in the courtroom’s front row where he has been throughout the grisly trial. He displayed no emotion other than to put his arm around his sister as the killer of his wife and two daughters repeatedly heard the sentence of death for each of their murders.
For six weeks, in the penalty phase of his trial, Komisarjevsky’s defense lawyers, Jeremiah Donovan, Water C. Bansley III and Todd Bussert argued that Komisarjevsky was “doomed from birth” and that his difficult childhood was marred by sexual abuse, addiction and a series of head injuries that created a “perfect storm” of psychological issues that caused Komisarjevsky to turn to a life of crime.
According to Donovan, Komisarjevsky was adopted and raised in a strict religious household with parents who were unwilling to seek professional psychiatric help for their increasingly troubled son.
A parade of witnesses including Komisarjevsky’s sister and his parents Jude and Benedict Komisarjevsky took the stand in his defense. Jude Komisarjevsky told the jury that her son seemed to change “overnight” when he was 14 and became angry and unreachable. “He wasn’t who he used to be,” said Jude Komisarjevsky as she broke down on the stand. Komisarjevsky’s sister testified that he molested her as a young girl.
In an unusual and controversial move, Komisarjevsky’s 9-year-old daughter was also called by the defense to testify and after some legal manouevering eventually ended up answering a series of questions while being videotaped. The tape was later shown to the jury. It is unclear if that videotape played a role in the jury’s decision.
The 12-member jury began their deliberations on Monday afternoon with a lengthy charge from the judge who has presided over both the Komisarjevsky and Hayes trials. Blue told the jury, “You must now decide whether he lives or dies. This simple statement is enough to suggest the solemnity of the occasion which brings us together.”
Prosecutors argued that there were aggravating factors in the Komisarjevsky case that should require a sentence of death. “Each murder was committed in an especially heinous, cruel or depraved manner” and he “inflicted extreme physical or psychological pain, suffering, or torture” on his victims, prosecutors argued.
The emotional trial began on Sept. 19. Komisarjevsky’s defense attorneys argued that their client was a man who was “confused” and easily led but who never meant to kill anyone. Komisarjevsky’s attorneys blamed Hayes for the killings and said Hayes was the criminal mastermind July 23, 2007 when the two men broke into the Petit family home.
At the beginning of the trial, one of Komisarjevsky’s attorneys Walter C. Bansley III warned the jury that they would likely hear testimony that would “break your hearts.” And the testimony was heartbreaking.
In gruesome detail, the jury heard how Komisarjevsky and Hayes beat Dr. William Petit about the head with a baseball bat and then tied him up bloodied and bruised. The jury learned how the two daughters Hayley and Michaela were tied to their beds for hours and terrorized. Komisarjevsky admitted to sexually molesting Michaela and taking half-naked pictures of the child as she was tied up.
There was also testimony about how Hayes raped and strangled the girls’ mother. And then how gasoline was poured in the Petit family home, including on the girl’s beds as they lay tied up before setting the house on fire. A medical examiner testified that because of the extent of the fire damage, dental records had to be used to identify Hawke-Petit’s body. Experts described how the young girls likely survived for agonizing minutes only to succumb to the poison of smoke inhalation.
Only the father survived. Brutally beaten and left bound in the basement he managed to escape to a neighbor’s house. As he did in Hayes’ trial, Petit sat in the first row every day and endured the often difficult testimony. During Hayes’ trial, Petit told reporters that he came to court every day because “if your family was destroyed by evil, you would be there for your family. It’s the only thing you can do for your family.”
As the horrific events of that night spiraled out of control, Bansley said Komisarjevsky was helpless to stop them because his decision-making skills had been impaired by his years of abuse and neglect.
Ironically, during Hayes’ trial last year, defense attorney Thomas Ullmann claimed that Komisarjevsky was the true mastermind behind the home invasion.
Komisarjevsky will now head to the Northern Correctional Institution in Somers, Connecticut. This level five maximum security institution houses Connecticut’s death row.
Only one individual has been executed in Connecticut since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. That execution occurred in 2005 and was of serial killer Michael Ross, also known as the Roadside Strangler.
Komisarjevsky will now join 10 other inmates on death row including his accomplice Steven Hayes.
Joshua A. Komisarjevsky was born on August 10th, 1980 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joshua_Komisarjevsky
August 10th, 1980
8 + 10 = 18 = his core number = Psycho. Madman.
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