Connecticut Home Invasion: Closing Arguments Paint Opposing Portraits of Joshua Komisarjevsky

PHOTO: Joshua Komisarjevsky, on trial for murdering Dr. William Petits wife and two daughters, is shown in this July 23, 2007 photo.

During closing arguments today, defense attorney Jeremiah Donovan called his client Joshua Komisarjevsky a "damaged man" who has confessed to crimes that would send him to prison for the rest of his life. "He was involved in crimes that shake our faith in humanity, but he did not intend for anyone to die," said Donovan.

Komisarjevsky is on trial for his role in the brutal home invasion that terrorized a Connecticut family and ended in the deaths of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, and her two daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11. Hawke-Petit had been raped and strangled, and the two girls died of smoke inhalation after their house was set on fire.

Donovan told the jury that in order to find Komisarjevsky guilty of a capital crime – one for which he could be sentenced to death – they needed to find that he "intended" to kill the family. Komisarjevsky has confessed to sexually assaulting 11-year-old Michaela Petit, beating Dr. William Petit with a baseball bat, and breaking into the family home and tying the two girls to their beds and terrorizing them for hours.

In an impassioned plea, Donovan told the jury to think about the entirety of Komisarjevsky's actions that morning. After he beat Dr. William Petit with a baseball bat and tied him to a pole in the basement, Komisarjevsky loosened those ties and brought him several pillows to sit on. If you're going to murder someone, would you really try to make them more comfortable? asked Donovan.

The defense attorney played some of Komisarjevsky's 90-minute audiotaped statement to police in which he said, "I'm not killing anyone, that's not how it's going to go down." Donovan explained that his client's monotone voice on the tape -- which seems so shocking and callous -- was really just a reaction to Komisarjevsky knowing his life was over and having gone more than two days without sleep.

Donovan also urged the jury to ignore Petit's emotional testimony during the trial, because his memory was likely unreliable given the beating he sustained and colored by the time he had spent in court. In addition, Donovan asked the jurors not to be swayed by the "big, good-looking upper-middle-class family" who spent day after day listening to testimony in court. "Put them out of your mind," said Donovan.

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