Connecticut Man Guilty of Home Invasion Murders

Joshua Komisarjevsky eligible for death penalty


A Connecticut man was found guilty Thursday of the home invasion murders of a woman and her two daughters in verdicts that could earn the man a death sentence.

The murders of Jennifer Hawke Petit, 48, and her daughters, Hayley Petit, 17, and Michaela Petit, 11, gained national attention for their brutality. Komisarjevsky's co-defendant, Steven Hayes, was sentenced to death last year after he was convicted of raping and strangling Jennifer Hawke-Petit. The daughters were tied up, molested, doused in gas and left to die in a fire. Their father, William Petit, was able to break free and escape.

The jury found Komisarjevsky, 31, guilty of all 17 charges he faced, including murder, arson, sexual assault, burglary and kidnapping. He faces a death sentence or life in prison on the capital felony charges in the penalty phase, which is set for Oct. 24.

"We're very pleased with the verdict," William Petit said after leaving the courtroom. "We think the prosecution did a wonderful job in putting together a case that was believable beyond reasonable doubt."

"I thought from the beginning that he was a lying sociopathic personality and probably at this moment he doesn't think he is guilty of anything," he told reporters outside the courthouse.

Petit said during the case he received letters of support from people in all 50 states and from foreign countries as far away as Ireland and Qatar.

Petit said he always felt the case was partly about sexual predation upon women, and the focus on Michaela made Komisarjevsky's trial particularly difficult.

"I thought, what would have been different if I had two sons instead of two daughters," William Petit said.

Jurors who heard the case against Komisarjevsky deliberated for about four hours Wednesday and resumed deliberations Thursday morning before a verdict was reached in the afternoon.

Komisarjevsky had blamed Hayes for killing the family, saying Hayes poured the gas and lit the fire. But test results showed Komisarjevsky had gas on his clothes. They also showed the girl he molested had bleach on her clothes, undermining his claim that only Hayes was worried about DNA.

Attorneys for Komisarjevsky said he never intended to kill anyone. They played a part of Komisarjevsky's confession in which he claims he told Hayes, "No one is dying by my hand today."

Jurors saw grim evidence, including charred beds, rope used to tie up the family and autopsy photos. They also heard testimony that Hayley likely took up to several minutes to die, and it was unclear if burns found on her body occurred before or after she died.

Gas was poured on Hayley's bed and on her sister, according to testimony.

William Petit had take the stand, describing how he fell, crawled and rolled in his frantic escape to a neighbor's house to get help.

Komisarjevsky insisted he didn't want anyone to die but could not explain why he did not untie the girls. His defense portrayed him as panicked and indecisive, claiming he suffers from "cognitive difficulties" that leave him unable to make quick decisions in stressful situations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.