Suspect convicted in home invasion murders

Oct. 13, 2011 at 6:42 PM
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NEW HAVEN, Conn., Oct. 13 (UPI) -- Joshua Komisarjevsky could face the death penalty after his conviction Thursday in the murders of a mother and her two daughters in a Connecticut home invasion.

A jury deliberated about 8 1/2 hours over two days before convicting Komisarjevsky on all 17 counts he faced in the July 23, 2007, murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, Hayley and Michaela Petit, the Hartford (Conn.) Courant reported.

Prosecutors said Komisarjevsky, a 31-year-old paroled burglar, masterminded the home invasion robbery and arson at the home in Cheshire, an affluent suburb of New Haven. Because he was convicted on all six capital felony charges, he will automatically face a death penalty hearing, set to begin Oct. 24, before the same jury.

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.

The two men, both of whom had recently been paroled from prison, broke into the house in the middle of the night, the Courant said.

Hawke-Petit, 48, was raped and strangled. Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, both of whom Komisarjevsky had admitted tying to their beds, died of smoke inhalation.

Komisarjevsky admitted sexually molesting Michaela and beating Petit in the head with a baseball bat but said he did not intend for anyone to die.

Petit fought tears in the courtroom.

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