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Joshua Komisarjevsky was sentenced to death this afternoon by the same jury that found him guilty of murdering Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters during a Cheshire home invasion in 2007.
For the past five weeks, the jury of 12 individuals had heard testimony during the penalty phase of the trial, in which defense attorneys for Komisarjevsky presented evidence they hoped would convince the jurors to spare their clients life. In the end, the jury deliberated for more than 19 hours, and delivered the verdict at approximately 3:36 p.m. Friday afternoon.
Komisarjevsky had been found guilty of all 17 counts against him back in October, including several capital felony charges. Jurors then had only two choices: recommend a punishment of life in prison or death by lethal injection.
The sentence comes four years and five months after Komisarjevsky and his accomplice, Steven Hayes, were apprehended fleeing the Petit home after it erupted in flames. The two men had entered the home in the early morning hours of July 27, beaten Dr. William Petit, the sole survivor of the attack, with a baseball bat, and taken Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, hostage. At approximately 9 a.m., Hayes drove Hawke-Petit to a nearby bank to withdraw $15,000. When the two returned to the home with the money, Hayes raped and strangled Hawke-Petit to death, and then he and Komisarjevsky proceeded to pour gasoline throughout the house while the two girls were tied to their beds. Both Hayley and Michaela Petit died in the fire.
Defense attorneys had tried to convince the jury that their client was a "broken" man who had been sexually abused by a foster brother as a child, and had been raised in an ultra-religious household. Those factors aided in Komisarjevsky turning to a life of crime, they insisted. The defense also continued to lay the blame for the escalation of violence within the Petit household at the feet of Hayes, who was convicted and sentenced to death last year.
Ultimately, those arguments fell on deaf ears, as the jury decided that Komisarjevsky deserved to follow in Hayes' footsteps. Komisarjevsky received the death penalty on all counts.
For more on this story, see next week's Cheshire Herald.