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Convicted killer Joshua Komisarjevsky was abused as a child and was convinced by his religious foster parents that he was a "sinner," according to his defense team.
The penalty phase for Komisarjevsky began Tuesday morning, with his lawyers delivering an opening statement that focused on Komisarjevsky's past. According to attorney Jeremiah Donovan, Komisarjevsky, who was adopted by a local Cheshire family, suffered sexual and physical abuse at the hands of an older male child, also adopted by the family. That, and the parent's evangelical practices led Komisarjevsky down a dark path that ultimately led him to drugs and to sexually assault his own biological sister.
According to the defense, while there were early signs that Komisarjevsky was unstable and suffering from emotional problems, the family did not seek professional help but, rather, decided to focus their attention on more religious treatments. That, Donovan indicated, ensured that Komisarjevsky never received the type of help he needed.
The arguments now are designed to convince a jury that Komisarjevsky should be sentenced to life in prison without parole, rather than the death penalty. Earlier this month, the same jury convicted Komisarjevsky on all 17 counts against him, including six capital charges which could ultimately result in the death penalty. Komisarjevsky was found guilty of murder and sexual assault in relation to his role in a 2007 home invasion in Cheshire, where Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, were killed. Dr. William Petit, the sole survivor of the attack, was not present during the defense teams opening statements.
The prosecution did not offer up its own statement and the proceedings will now move on to witnesses, where the defense is expected to call numerous individuals to the stand over the next few weeks to testify on behalf of Komisarjevsky. It is unknown whether Komisarjevsky himself will take the stand or possibly offer a statement to the jury.
For more on this story, see tomorrow's Cheshire Herald and check back to the website regularly for updates.