Connecticut vs Komisarjevsky is winding down this week. Closing arguments in the penalty phase will be Friday. Deliberations will begin Monday. Trial watchers, including me, have just sat through an interminable 20 days of testimony in the penalty phase.
Komisarjevsky was convicted on 17 counts, including 3 capital counts, in the home invasion robbery gone way off the rails that resulted in the deaths of three members of the Petit family in July 2007. The preceding cold, sterile sentence doesn’t begin to describe the horrible nature of this crime.
A punk with a mile-long rap sheet for breaking and entering and a penchant for entering homes while residents sleep to steal, within days of having his ankle monitor removed while on parole, teamed up with a pal to break into a “nice family’s” home in search of cash. As Komisarjevsky himself describes the crime, “it was a home invasion gone terribly wrong”. Yeah. It sure was.
His partner for this crime, Steven Hayes was found guilty and sentenced to death last year and it sure seems that Komisarjevsky will be joining his pal on death row.
The death penalty is a controversial topic and I won’t debate the pros and cons in this post. It is law in Virginia where I live and it is law in Connecticut. The question isn’t whether there should be a death penalty in this case, it is how to apply the law and whether the State has proven its case.
The correct emotional response to this crime is these guys need to fry and I would be happy to flip the switch.
What makes this case interesting at this stage is whether there are mitigating circumstances that might outweigh the aggravating factors of the crime and save this guys live so he can serve hard life (without parole) as a guest of the state.
Guilt or innocence was never a question, the really bad guys were caught fleeing the scene in the Petit’s car. Within hours of the break-in Komisarjevsky provided his incriminating statement.
The prosecutors proved all the elements of the 17 charges, and while deliberations are always scary, the jury convicted on all counts.
The judge hasn’t provided the charge to jurors just yet, but we can all guess what the aggravating factors will be… let’s see: kidnapping, kidnapping for gain, murder in the commission of unspeakable acts, sexual assault, sexual assault of a minor, murder in the commission of sexual assault, failure to take any of the dozens of opportunities to stop. Then there are the intangible terms that describe this crime: heinous, depraved, and indifference to human life. The aggravating factors would seem to be well established.
That leaves the question of mitigating causes. My first thought is – what could possible mitigate this?
Here comes the litany of excuses offered by the defense:
- biological family members had mental illness
- conservative, evangelical, Christian family
- foster kids in the household
- sexually abused as a child
- learning disabilities
- many, many previous convictions
- in and out of jail
- good behavior in jail
- no previous violent convictions
- his parents could have done a better job
- he has a daughter
and the defense is going to try to get in my personal favorites…
The jury will be charged on Monday.
Great follows for the Komisarjevsky trial #komis, @alainegriffin, @GeorgeCalli