CHESHIRE, Conn. (CBS 2) — The stage is now set for another death penalty trial in the home invasion murders of a mother and her two children in Connecticut.
A day after a jury gave Steven Hayes a death sentence, the focus now turns to his co-defendant — the person Hayes has fingered as the mastermind.
The new owner of the house where the accused killer once lived asked CBS 2’s Lou Young not to take pictures.
“It’s very difficult. It’s very difficult for everyone,” Cheshire resident Ray Bennet said.
Joshua Komisarjevsky was 26 years old in the summer of 2007 when the Petit home became a killing ground. It’s now a memorial park for the victims. That the adopted son of an affluent local couple would be accused of the crimes here is almost beyond belief.
The younger defendant seemed to play the lead role in the horror that occurred in Cheshire. He was the experienced burglar. He allegedly used the baseball bat to beat Dr. William Petit and police found photos of the Petit girls on his cell phone, taken inside the house during the crimes.
He also knew the area well. He grew up in Cheshire. His adoptive parents lived less than two miles from here.
Bennet told CBS 2 that Komisarjevsky grew up in a good home in a nice community. So what could have possibly gone wrong?
“I have, have no idea,” Bennet said.
Komisarjevsky has a 5-year-old daughter, and a former girlfriend who may have been part of his motive for robbing the Petit home. The paroled ex-convict allegedly told her he was going to get $15,000 to reunite them in Connecticut – the precise amount of money Jennifer Hawke-Petit was asked to withdraw from a bank before she and her daughters were murdered.
The girlfriend, Caroline Mesel, who lives out of state, said she now despises him.
“I get so mad thinking about it. I kind of wish I could do to him what he did to the girls. I kind of wish he could just feel exactly what they went through,” Mesel said during a recent interview.
Young has learned the penalty phase of Komisarjevsky’s trial will contain evidence of childhood abuse, drugs and psychological problems. Experts said it will be longer than the Hayes trial.
“I think you’re going to see quite a few potential mitigating factors being put before the jury and the court,” former prosecutor Chris Morani told Young.
The second Cheshire trial begins after the first of the year in New Haven.
In personal writings Komisarjevsky fancied himself as a dedicated burglar who enjoyed breaking into homes, sometimes with the help of night vision goggles. He met Hayes in a half-way house awaiting parole.
Before the Cheshire killings neither had a previous history of violence.