Joshua Komisarjevsky guilty in murder

After nearly two days of deliberation, the jury in the Joshua Komisarjevsky trial found the defendant guilty on all of the 17 counts against him. They convicted Komisarjevsky of murdering Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, Hayley and Michaela during a 2007 home invasion. Since six of those counts are capital felonies, that same jury will now decide what Komisarjevsky’s sentence will be life in prison or the death penalty.
“They’re now about to face a task that is even more difficult than what they’ve done. They’ve just viewed horrific evidence that will haunt them for a lifetime. Now they’ll have to in effect, decide if this man will live or die” – said Norm Pattis – a criminal defense attorney with no ties to the case.
Pattis says this phase of the trial is where the defense will have to pull out all the stops and humanize Komisarjevsky in the eyes of the jury. Pattis says the defense will have a lot to work with and could even put Komisarjevsky on the stand.
“The challenge for the defense is going to be to take all of this material, look 12 ordinary people in the eye and ask how is it possible that one of us could behave in this manner, and that’s really the stress, one of us” – said Pattis.
The state will also be making its case. Former Chief State’s Attorney Chris Morano says the state has to prove aggravating factors, which show the death penalty is the right punishment for Komisarjevsky’s crimes.

Joshua Komisarjevsky guilty in murder
Joshua Komisarjevsky.

Joshua Komisarjevsky has been found guilty of 17 criminal counts including Capital Murder at his trial in a New Haven, Connecticut, court. After the jury sorted through mounds of grisly evidence (including a detailed, taped confession) Komisarjevsky now faces the death penalty. Co-defendant Steven Hayes was found guilty of Capital Murder nearly a year ago and sentenced to death in the July 2007 murders of a mother and her two children in suburban Cheshire, Conn. Komisarjevsky, alleged to be Hayes’ accomplice, is accused of tying Petit sisters Hayley (17) and Michaela (11) to their beds, sexually assaulting one child and then pouring gasoline over both before setting the house ablaze. Hayes is alleged to have raped and strangled the mother, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, in her bedroom. Dr. William Petit had been brutally bludgeoned and left to die in the basement of his suburban New Haven home but managed to escape. Hayes later complained that he was surprised Petit escaped because he believed that he had tied him well.
In the aftermath of these gruesome crimes, activists (predictably) reared their heads in protest. Calls for gun control, extended parole periods – both defendants have prior convictions for burglary – and a general call for stricter treatment of criminals were loudly demanded and all were dutifully noted in the press. Indeed, it is a natural thing for people to look for something or someone to blame in the wake of crimes such as these: the criminal justice system is to blame; there ought to be a law; if only the police had done this or that differently. But no law would have stopped this, no regulation, no procedure. No law could have stopped this. It is beyond common sense that any who callously rape and mass murder will have much regard for legal nuance. Still, in a crime so appalling it is not surprising that the general public is overwhelmed and demands an explanation.
Often criminologists in varied sub-disciplines weigh in on crime causation in aberrations such as the Cheshire murders and collectively find themselves stumbling for a suitable explanation. Psychologists will call it sociopathy; sociologists might suggest an upbringing by a loveless mother; economists will suggest impoverished desperation; and the police will suggest drugs, as they always do. Not to say that these are necessarily bad explanations, but in all fairness it is likely that no single explanation will suffice.

When she moved from south Florida to town in 2007, Cynthia McMillian quickly recognized the closeness of the Cheshire community.
That made the Petit home invasion that year all the more devastating – McMillian said.
Cheshire resident Joshua Komisarjevsky (31) was found guilty Thursday of all 17 charges in the home invasion that killed Jennifer Hawke-Petit (48) and her two daughters, Hayley (17) and Michaela (11).
McMillian said there’s a reluctance to talk about the attack. The cases against Steven Hayes and Komisarjevsky followed their movements through popular town spots, including the Stop & Shop on Route 10, where Komisarjevsky first saw Hawke-Petit and Michaela and followed them home.
“It was such a life-altering experience for everyone because the assumptions about safety in the community were snatched out from under them” – McMillian said.
Hayes was sentenced to death last year. Most town residents had no doubt of Komisarjevsky’s guilt, but don’t expect an end to the story anytime soon.
“They were caught in the act” – McMillian said. “How could there be a defense?”
Thursday’s verdicts (after eight hours of deliberation over two days) end the guilt phase of Komisarjevsky’s trial. The same jury will now determine whether or not he receives the death penalty.
“I’m surprised it took that long” – said Town Councilor Thomas Ruocco.
“During the trial process and in facing reporters after Thursday’s verdict, home invasion survivor Dr. William Petit Jr. was “strong and composed” – Ruocco said.
The prosecution could have agreed to life in prison for Hayes and Komisarjevsky in exchange for guilty pleas, sparing Petit such a long, detailed trial.
“For him to go through that has to be excruciating” – Ruocco said. “There was a plea deal on the table. He didn’t have to go through this.”

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