Connecticut Repeals Death Penalty

New law will not affect killers of Dr. William Petit's family.

ByABC News
April 25, 2012, 2:48 PM

April 25, 2012 — -- Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy signed the state's death penalty repeal bill into law today, but the new law will not affect the 11 convicted killers already on death row including the two men who killed the wife and daughters of Dr. William Petit.

The bill signing made Connecticut the 17th state to abolish the death penalty.

"This afternoon I signed legislation that will, effective today, replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of release as the highest form of legal punishment in Connecticut," Malloy said in a statement released after he signed the bill behind closed doors.

"It is a moment for sober reflection, not celebration," he wrote.

The new law replaces the death penalty with a sentence of life without parole. It abolished the death penalty for future cases, but it does not affect sentences for the 11 inmate's currently on death row in the state.

An isolated and vacant cell block at the Osborn prison in Somers is expected to be used for the death row inmates who are now on death row, according to ABC News' Hartford affiliate WTNH. The inmates will be kept isolated from the general prison population and will have tightly restricted privileges.

Malloy said he signed the bill because working as a prosecutor, he "learned firsthand that our system of justice is very imperfect" and that it was "subject to the fallibility of those who participate in it."

The second factor that led to his decision today was the "unworkability" of Connecticut's death penalty law.

The state has put to death two people in the past 52 years and both had volunteered for it. He said that the state's residents pay for countless fruitless appeals as the cases receive publicity he did not believe they deserve.

"The 11 men currently on death row in Connecticut are far more likely to die of old age than they are to be put to death," he said.

Malloy also acknowledged that the campaign to abolish the death penalty was led by dozens of family members of murder victims, some of whom were present when he signed the bill.

Not all family members have been supportive of repealing the death penalty.

One of the strongest voices against repealing the death penalty has been Dr. William Petit Jr., the lone survivor of a 2007 Cheshire home invasion that resulted in the murders of his wife and two daughters.

The wife was raped and strangled, one of the daughters was molested and both girls were left tied to their beds as the house was set on fire.

The two men convicted of the crime, Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes, are currently on death row.

"There is no such thing as closure when your loved one is savagely taken from you," Petit -- along with his sister Johanna Petit Chapman -- wrote in a statement to the New Haven Register in March. "There can, however, be adequate and just punishment and that is the death penalty."