Connecticut man found guilty in home invasion murders

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 13, 2011 5:13 PM
Connecticut man found guilty in home invasion murders

NEW HAVEN, Conn (Reuters) - A jury on Thursday found a Connecticut man guilty of all 17 charges, including murder, arson and kidnapping, in a 2007 home invasion case that left a mother and her two daughters dead.

Joshua Komisarjevsky faces the possibility of the death sentence for murdering Jennifer Hawke-Petit and Michaela, 11, and Hayley, 17, in the Cheshire, Connecticut attack.

The 17 charges against him in New Haven Superior Court also included sexual assault.

Komisarjevsky's accomplice, Steven Hayes, was found guilty of similar charges last year and sentenced to death.

The jury in the Komisarjevsky case deliberated less than two days before returning its guilty verdicts. The jury in the Hayes case deliberated five hours over two days before convicting him.

Prosecutors said Komisarjevsky and Hayes broke into the Petit home early on July 23, 2007 after Komisarjevsky spotted Michaela Petit in a grocery store and made her his target.

Later that morning, Hawke-Petit drove to a bank, where she told a teller her family was being held hostage and she needed $15,000 to pay off the captors.

A bank manager called police but when authorities arrived at the Petit home, it was engulfed in flames. The police have been criticized as being slow to respond.

The only survivor, Dr. William Petit, was badly beaten and bound but managed to escape as the house was set on fire.

In the burning house were his daughters, who died of smoke inhalation, and the body of his wife, who had been raped and strangled. The younger girl had been sexually assaulted.

Connecticut has only executed one person, in 2005, since the death penalty was reinstated in the United States in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Jerry Norton)