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Crime News

Connecticut Court Upholds Triple Murder Conviction Of Petit Family Home Invasion Killer

Joshua Komisarjevsky was convicted in the 2007 murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters. The Connecticut Supreme Court denied his appeal 7-0 on April 12. 

By Dorian Geiger
Joshua Komisarjevsky Steven Hayes Ap

A Connecticut man's appeal in a triple murder conviction stemming from a deadly 2007 home invasion was struck down this week.

Joshua Komisarjevsky’s appeal was denied 7-0 by the Connecticut Supreme Court on Monday, April 12th, according to Hartford television station WTIC-TV.

Komisarjevsky was convicted in the slayings of 48-year-old Jennifer Hawke-Petit, and her daughters, Michaela, 11, and Hayley, 17 at their house in Cheshire, Connecticut roughly 14 years ago, WVIT reported.

Komisarjevsky and co-defendant Steven Hayes burglarized the family’s home in the early morning hours of July 23, 2017. After finding no cash on the property, they demanded Hawke-Petit drive them to a bank where she withdrew $15,000 and tried to alert the teller that she was being held hostage. Hayes later choked and raped Hawke-Petit, and one of her daughters. The two girls died from smoke inhalation after the home was set ablaze.

Hawke-Petit’s husband, William Petit, now a state representative, survived being clubbed repeatedly with a baseball bat during the home invasion. He was tied with rope and left unconscious in the home’s basement but later managed to escape and notify neighbors as the house was set ablaze. He lost seven pints of blood, the Hartford Courant reported.

While Komisarjevsky claimed to be the architect of the deadly robbery, he cast blame on his co-defendant for strangling Petit’s wife and igniting the fire that killed the couple’s two children. 

Komisarjevsky and Hayes were convicted of murder, sexual assault and other crimes and sentenced to death in 2010 and 2011, respectively. The two men were tried separately. Their punishments were changed to life in prison after Connecticut abolished the death penalty in 2015.

Komisarjevsky and Hayes were subsequently re-sentenced to six consecutive life sentences, including an additional 140 years behind bars.

“Josh is not a mad dog killer,” his attorney Jeremiah Donovan told the New Haven Register at the time. “He’s a deeply troubled kid with lots of potential.” 

The court has previously ruled against at least six appeals attempts by Komisarjevsky. 

He had attempted to change the trial’s location, arguing it had been tainted by pretrial media attention, which he described as an “unprecedented media maelstrom,” according to court documents obtained by Oxygen.com. Komisarjevsky also argued that prosecutors failed to disclose evidence, including taped police calls at the time of the incident, and had violated his constitutional rights. Komisarjevsky also alleged prison conditions were inhumane, WTIC-TV reported. 

His lengthy series of unsuccessful appeals has outraged local officials.

“It’s a shame this is happening,” Rep. Liz Linehan told the New Haven Register in 2019. “It’s a waste of the taxpayers’ money. He was found guilty and he is guilty.”

Komisarjevsky has a number of prior burglary convictions, according to separate court filings obtained by Oxygen.com. He began abusing cocaine and methamphetamine as a teen, robbing “upscale homes” to support a “crystal meth habit,” according to past parole hearing documents. 

The 2007 home invasion gained additional notoriety after it was compared to the gruesome murders of the Clutter family, made famous in Truman Capote’s nonfiction book “In Cold Blood."