HARTFORD, Conn. – The two recently paroled convicts accused of killing three members of a Cheshire family during a burglary were deemed a low risk to society when they were released from prison this spring, according to Department of Correction records released Thursday.
The department's assessments were included in files provided to the state Board of Pardons and Paroles before members decided to release Joshua Komisarjevsky, 26, of Cheshire, and Steven Hayes, 44, of Winsted.
The two, who met in a halfway house, were on parole July 23 when they allegedly burglarized a home and took a family hostage, killing a mother and her two daughters.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell ordered the board to release the records as officials scrutinize the parole process.
Hayes, who has been in and out of prison and halfway houses, has a long criminal record, including stealing cars and cash. The parole board received 349 pages of records when considering whether to release him. Komisarjevsky's file was 89 pages.
Both men indicated they had drug problems. Hayes said he had a cocaine problem and Komisarjevsky claimed he was addicted to crystal meth, according to the records.
John Lahda, executive director of the parole board, said nothing about either of the two men raised red flags for the parole board. Members who decided to release Komisarjevsky did not see a transcript of a 2002 hearing at which a judge sentencing him for a string of burglaries called him a "cold, calculating predator."
Lahda said such hearing transcripts are not usually provided to parole board members, but that the board will consider whether they should be included in files.
"We have to look at everything, like they want us to do," he said. "Maybe someone somewhere sees something we can improve on."
The Department of Correction also indicated that neither Komisarjevsky nor Hayes was considered at risk for committing sexual assault. Both were charged with rape in last week's incident, in addition to capital felony, kidnapping, assault, burglary, robbery, arson, larceny and risk of injury to children. They are jailed on $15 million bond each. Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.
Police say the men forced 48-year-old Jennifer Hawke-Petit to withdraw money at a local bank, then killed her and her two daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11. The state medical examiner said Hawke-Petit was strangled while the girls died from smoke inhalation after the family home was set ablaze.
The lone survivor, Dr. William Petit Jr., was badly beaten but managed to escape.
Both suspects had been classified as nonviolent offenders because they did not hurt anyone during their earlier crimes.
State officials said Komisarjevsky served nearly 60 percent of his sentence for a series of nighttime burglaries when he was paroled in April. Hayes served 75 percent of his sentence on burglary charges before being released in May. Both were eligible for parole after serving 50 percent of their sentences, but the board decided they should serve more time.
In addition to ordering the release of the records, Rell also ordered that all parole hearings be announced by public notice and recorded.
"The only way to fix this process and to ensure in the future that the best and most appropriate decisions are made regarding paroles is to ensure that all information on offenders is available, not only to the board but also to the members of the community," Rell said in a written statement.
Thursday's announcement is the second by the governor's office about tightened supervision of parolees. On Tuesday, Rell announced a new policy making burglars convicted of breaking into occupied homes subject to random visits from parole officers. The new policy affects 38 people on parole.
She also said she will ask state lawmakers to pass a law reclassifying such offenses as violent crimes, requiring offenders to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences before they are eligible for parole.