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Jury Enters Second Day Of Deliberations In Komisarjevsky Trial Penalty Phase

December 6, 2011 by John Rook

A jury of his peers has already found killer Joshua Komisarjevsky guilty of 17 counts, including several capital crimes. Now, those same individuals are deciding whether he deserves to die for his actions.
Jurors are entering their second day of deliberations at New Haven Superior Court today. At stake: whether Komisarjevsky is given a life sentence without the possibility of parole, or sentenced to death.
Those are the only two options after Komisarjevsky was found guilty of killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, during a home invasion in Cheshire in 2007. Komisarjevsky's accomplice, Steven Hayes, was found guilty of similar charges last year and, ultimately, sentenced to death.
However, attorneys for Komisarjevsky have presented a vigorous defense of their client as a "broken" man who had been sexually abused as a child by a foster brother, and raised in an ultra-strict religious household that the defense claims aided in Komisarjevsky heading down the "wrong road."
Over more than five weeks of testimony, the defense presented witnesses who testified that Komisarjevsky showed early warning signs of warped personality, but that his foster parents decided against conventional mental health treatment and, instead, relying on religion to help him. That personality disorder stemmed, the defense claims, from sexual abuse Komisarjevsky claims he suffered as a child at the hands of a foster brother.
The prosecution, however, has sought to paint Komisarjevsky as a predator who willingly engaged in the sexual assault of 11-year-old Michaela Petit and killing of Hayley Petit and Jennifer Hawke-Petit. Attorneys also recalled a Cheshire police officer, who confirmed that Komisarjevsky and Hayes had broken into Cheshire homes the night before, while families were asleep inside, to burglarize the households. That, the prosecution insisted, shows that Komisarjevsky was not a "broken man" fighting inner demons, but a calculating criminal and the duo's ring leader.
There is no timetable as to when the jury will come to a determination on Komisarjevsky's punishment. In the Hayes case, jurors took nearly four days to hand down its sentence.
Check back here for updates as they become available, and see this week's Cheshire Herald for a recap of the closing arguments made by the defense and prosecution.

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