Dr. Petit May Have Killed Death Penalty Repeal

Swing-vote senator reportedly turns against repeal bill after meeting with Cheshire home invasion survivor.

The Hartford Courant’s "Capitol Watch"  blog is reporting that Dr. William Petit has convinced a swing-vote Democrat in the state Senate to withdraw her support for repealing the death penalty in Connecticut.

A vote on the repeal bill was expected this week, and the issue was reportedly so close that the single vote of Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, might tip the victory for death penalty supporters.

Prague told Capitol Watch that she changed her mind about voting for the bill after meeting with Petit.

Petit, an endocrinologist, is the sole survivor of the Cheshire home invasion and triple-homicide in 2007. He was beaten and tied up in the basement, but managed to escape to a neighbor’s house.

His wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, and daughters Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, were killed during the home invasion, kidnapping and robbery. Hawke-Petit and Michaela were also sexually assaulted.

Jury selection is taking place for Joshua Komisarjevsky, the second defendant to go to trial for the crime. Steven Hayes was convicted in a separate trial last year and is on death row. Komisarjevsky also faces the death penalty.

The bill before the legislature would not affect the sentencing of Komisarjevsky or Hayes. It would only abolish the death penalty for defendants who commit crime after the law goes into effect.

But Petit has become a vocal supporter of the death penalty. He has also attended nearly every court session for Hayes and Komisarjevsky.



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