October 13th, 2011 | City

Defendant in Cheshire murders convicted on all 17 counts

Flanked by family members, Dr. William Petit Jr., center, addresses the media after Joshua Komisarjevsky was convicted on Thursday of murdering Petit's wife and two daughters in a 2007 home invasion.
Flanked by family members, Dr. William Petit Jr., center, addresses the media after Joshua Komisarjevsky was convicted on Thursday of murdering Petit's wife and two daughters in a 2007 home invasion. Photo by The Associated Press.

Joshua Komisarjevsky, the paroled burglar who prosecutors said was behind a July 2007 triple murder in Cheshire, CT, was found guilty on all 17 accounts Thursday afternoon after jurors spent about eight hours deliberating over two days. Komisarjevsky was convicted of the murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, Michaela and Hayley.

During the proceedings, Komsarjevsky is reported to have stood with his eyes down, and to have yawned when he was led out of the courtroom. The only survivor of the home invasion, Dr. William Petit, bit his lip and closed his eyes as the verdict was read.

“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,” Petit told reporters outside the courthouse.

Komisarjevsky confessed to tying Hayley and Michaela to their beds, sexually molesting Michaela and beating Dr. Petit with a baseball bat, but he said he never intended for anyone to die. Hawke-Petit, 48, was raped and strangled; Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, died of smoke inhalation.

Stephen Hayes, Komisarjevsky’s accomplice, is already on death row, waiting to be executed by lethal injection. The two of them were arrested as they fled the burning home in one of the Petits’ vehicles.

The jury will decide later whether Komisarjevsky, 31, should be executed or sentenced to life in prison. The penalty phase of the trial begins on Oct. 24.