US & Canada

Komisarjevsky denies blame as death sentence passed

file photo provided by the Connecticut State Police shows Joshua Komisarjevsky 23 July 2007
Image caption Komisarjevsky told the New Haven court "I will never find peace within"

A man convicted of murdering a woman and her two daughters in a 2007 home invasion has tried to deflect blame, as a judge sentenced him to die.

Joshua Komisarjevsky, 31, was ordered to face lethal injection after emotional statements from family members of the victims.

The crime shocked America and helped defeat a bill to abolish the death penalty in the state of Connecticut.

Komisarjevsky's accomplice, Steven Hayes, was sentenced to death in 2010.

The two were on parole for burglary when they broke into a home in Cheshire, Connecticut.

'Personal holocaust'

While Dr William Petit was tied up, his wife Jennifer Hawke-Petit was forced to withdraw money from her bank.

She was then raped by Hayes and strangled to death.

Hawke-Petit's 11-year-old daughter, Michaela, was sexually assaulted by Komisarjevsky.

Both girls were tied to their beds and left to die as the house was doused in petrol and set on fire.

The only survivor, Dr Petit, was beaten with a baseball bat and tied up but escaped.

He testified during Friday's sentencing hearing that the crime had been a "personal holocaust".

"I lost my family and my home,'' he said. "They were three special people. Your children are your jewels.''

Defence lawyers had argued that Komisarjevsky, convicted of sexual assault and murder in October, should be spared execution in light of the abuse he suffered as a boy.

But Judge Jon Blue disagreed and told the convicted man he had brought the harshest sentence on himself.

In court on Friday, Komisarjevsky acknowledged he had hurt many people, but insisted that he never raped the girl and had not intended to kill.

"They were never supposed to lose their lives," said Komisarjevsky, who will become the 11th man on Connecticut's death row.

"I know my responsibilities, but what I cannot do is carry the responsibilities of the actions of another,'' Komisarjevsky said. "I did not want those innocent women to die.''

During the trial, Komisarjevsky and Hayes blamed each other for escalating the crime.

Being condemned to death was a "surreal experience", Komisarjevsky added.

Talking about the penalty, he said: "I wonder when the killing will end."

They are not likely to be put to death soon, as both cases will be automatically appealed, a process that could last decades.

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