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Home invasion-murders penalty phase begins

Oct. 25, 2011 at 5:41 PM   |   Comments

NEW HAVEN, Conn., Oct. 25 (UPI) -- The death penalty phase in Joshua Komisarjevsky's trial in Connecticut trial opened Tuesday with testimony about his previous 19 burglary convictions.

Prosecutors skipped an opening statement in the sentencing of Komisarjevsky for the murders of a mother and her two daughters in a home invasion in Cheshire, an affluent suburb of New Haven, Conn., instead calling as a witness court clerk Jack Dziekan, The Hartford Courant reported.

Dziekan testified about documents related to Komisarjevsky's criminal convictions for burglaries in Burlington, Bristol and Cheshire in 2001 and 2002.

The Courant said some jurors appeared to be writing in their notebooks the long list of criminal charges against Komisarjevsky.

Komisarjevsky, 31, of Cheshire was convicted this month of 17 counts, including six capital felonies, in the home-invasion slayings of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, Hayley and Michaela.

Whether he receives the death penalty or life in prison will be decided by the same jury that convicted him.

Prosecutors said during the trial Komisarjevsky, a paroled burglar, masterminded the home invasion robbery and arson.

The jury found Komisarjevsky guilty of four counts of kidnapping, causing the three deaths during the kidnappings; sexually assaulting Michaela and causing her death during the assault; burglary; and arson. He was also found guilty of assaulting the only surviving family member, William Petit Jr., the husband of Hawke-Petit and father of the two girls.

Police arrested Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes, 47, of Winsted, Conn., as they fled the burning house in one of the family's vehicles.

Hayes was convicted of 16 of 17 charges and sentenced to die by lethal injection.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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