Death sentence for home invasion killer

Dec. 9, 2011 at 9:11 PM

NEW HAVEN, Conn., Dec. 9 (UPI) -- A jury in New Haven, Conn., Friday sentenced Joshua Komisarjevsky to death for the torture and murder of a woman and her two daughters in a home invasion.

After deliberating for five days, the jury Friday found Komisarjevsky should be put to death for the murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, and her daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, during a July 23, 2007, invasion and arson at their home, the Hartford (Conn.) Courant reported.

Dr. William Petit Jr., who was beaten with a baseball bat but survived the attack, fought back tears as the verdicts were read, the newspaper said.

The jury found Komisarjevsky guilty in October 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.

Defense lawyers had argued Komisarjevsky should receive a life prison sentence instead of the death penalty, pointing to factors such as his strict religious upbringing, his parents' unwillingness to seek psychiatric care for him after sexual abuse in the home and ways he tried to turn his life around.

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.

The two men had recently been paroled from prison when they broke into the house.

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