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Second defendant in Connecticut home invasion killings found guilty

October 13, 2011 |  2:41 pm

Petit family

After three weeks of often gruesome testimony, a second Connecticut man was convicted Thursday of rape and murder in a home invasion that left a woman and her two daughters dead -- a crime so unsettling it reinforced efforts to retain the death penalty in the state.

KomisarjevskyJoshua Komisarjevsky, 31, faces either death row or life in prison. The same jury that found him guilty Thursday of a capital felony killing and other charges will decide in two weeks on the sentencing.

After the verdict was read, Komisarjevsky calmly sat back in his chair, rocked slightly back and forth, and glanced briefly at the jury, according to NBC News. Dr. William Petit, who survived the deadly attack but lost his whole family that summer day in 2007, bit his lip and closed his eyes.

Komisarjevsky’s accomplice, Steven Hayes, was convicted a year ago and sentenced to death for killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, Michaela, 11, and Hayley, 17.

After following the mother and her youngest daughter home from the grocery store on July 22, 2007, the men broke into the family's home in the affluent Connecticut suburb of Cheshire and first beat Dr. Petit unconscious with a baseball bat before tying up his wife and daughters and putting them through a night of terror.

During the trial, investigators testified that the girls, who had pillowcases placed over their heads and were tied to their beds, died of smoke inhalation after the house was doused in gasoline and set ablaze. Their mother was already dead, having been raped and strangled after being forced to drive to a bank with Hayes and withdraw $15,000 for the men -- an event caught on video and replayed for jurors.


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 --Geraldine Baum in New York

Top photo: Dr. William Petit Jr. with his daughters Michaela, front, Hayley, center rear, and his wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, on Cape Cod, Mass., in 2007. Credit: William Petit

Left photo: Joshua Komisarjevsky was convicted in a deadly 2007 home invasion in Cheshire, Conn. Credit: AP Photo/Connecticut State Police, File