Charges in the Petit Family Home Invasion Case

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A Connecticut Nightmare


Occurrences in relation to criminal law is applicable in different scenarios and situations.  Categories of such are presumed accordingly by statutory of public law or the common law in each state. Provisions may differ and alleviate contingently but the general provisions underly the same concept as it results to injury, harm, fatality and other criteria brought on as distress to people and/or property.

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The case involving the Petit family home invasion, it was clear that both the offenders, Komisarjevsky and Hayes, are guilty on multiple counts due to their intentional affliction prompted on the family and their property. As the process of evaluating the crimes and charges against the two men begins, first each crime is to be considered. According to the Connecticut state statutes these men could be charged with crimes such as; Arson in the first degree, home invasion, assault in the first degree, burglary in the first degree, unlawful restraint (being in the first and second degree), and sexual assault in the first degree. All these charges are either Class A or Class B felonies. The crime, torture, assault and so much harm inflicted on the family, including Dr. Petit, his wife Jennifer, and their two girls 18-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela, is so horrific and detrimental to even imagine and malignant during the research of such a criminal offense. 

Connecticut Statutes for Homicide – Charged Degree(s) for Criminal Acts Inflicted

In the state of Connecticut, the crime doesn’t get divided into categories of such as first-degree and second-degree murder laws. Instead, the Constitution State divides its murder laws based upon things such as whether an officer of the law was the victim, whether a felony was committed, and the type of felony committed. 

In the Connecticut Penal Code Chapter 952, Secs 53a-100aa, Home Invasion is a Class A Felony. According the code: A person who commits home invasion unlawfully enters a person’s home while occupied with intent to commit a crime. (1) By themselves or with a partner(s) in the crime commits or attempts to commit a felony against the occupants of the home.

Conn. Gen. Stat. sec. 53a – 54b (2016)allows the state to try individuals for a higher crime when they can show “ (5) murder by a kidnapper of a kidnapped person during the course of the kidnapping or before such person is able to return or be returned to safety; (6) murder committed in the course of the commission of sexual assault in the first degree; (7) murder of two or more persons at the same time or in the course of a single transaction; or (8) murder of a person under sixteen years of age.

As the house was set on fire, which killed the two girls as well as burned the Dr. Petit wife Jennifer’s body after she was strangled to death, there is still the fact that arson was inflicted. In accordance with Conn. Gen. Stat. sec. 53a – 54d “A person is guilty of murder when, acting either alone or with one or more persons, he commits arson and, in the course of such arson, causes the death of a person. Notwithstanding any other provision of the general statutes, any person convicted of murder under this section shall be punished by life imprisonment and shall not be eligible for parole.”

Among the numerous criminal acts, this one was inflicted upon Dr. Petit. When the perpetrators broke into the Petit home, they had beaten Dr. Petit with a baseball bat before dragging him to the basement, putting a garbage bag over his head, and tying him up to restrain him. The perpetrators have committed the crime of assault on Dr. Petit. Assault is defined as “An intentional threat, show of force, or movement that could reasonably make a person feel in danger of physical attach or harmful physical contact” (Criminal Law and Procedure).

Homicide Statues – Manslaughter? Definitely NOT

The intent or the severity of the inflicted crime differentiates the titled case of charge as resulting in the clarification of the consideration of being homicide vs manslaughter in specification and its statutory punishment range. Again, the gravity offense of the killing, or the motive (intent) behind that killing namely increases the chance of the degree of punishment for that type of murder charge. Since, the crime was not deliberate since the killing was sought out making it premeditated, the elements revolving the factors are defined in the state of Connecticut’s statues).

Under the Conn. Gen. Stat. sec. 53a – 55. manslaughter is declared as: (a) A person is guilty of manslaughter in the first degree when: (1) With intent to cause serious physical injury to another person, he causes the death of such person or of a third person; or (2) with intent to cause the death of another person, he causes the death of such person or of a third person under circumstances which do not constitute murder because he committed the proscribed act or acts under the influence of extreme emotional disturbance.

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Under the circumstances it could be easy to confuse lack of consideration for life with an extreme mental disturbance. Defense attorneys could play the situation as claiming his clients to being under the influence and show a psychiatric report for Komisarjevsky of being chemically/ mentally imbalanced as he enjoyed the “thrill” of robbing people at night while the residents are at home unlike most criminals who rather invade or steal during the day. Under the influence card can play as it clouds a person’s judgement and the decisions that follow but since Komisarjevsky has been recorded as a trouble teen and was committed his first crime at the age of twelve, this could influence the jury to see it in multiple outcomes. Maybe he didn’t get the proper upbringing to teach him from right or wrong, but at the same time, at the age of 27 Komisarjevsky should have the ideology behind causing one harm as he is stable enough to plan rob, stalk the family beforehand and then inflict such a heinous crime.

Additional content in the code states verbatim in reference to mental disturbance is as such: A homicide influenced by an extreme emotional disturbance is not one which is necessarily committed in hot blood stage, but rather one that was brought about by a significant mental trauma that caused defendant to brood for long period of time and then react violently, seemingly without provocation. (104 CA 780.) This would not be the case in this situation. This was extremely premeditated. Causing Mrs. Petit to die by strangulation was intentional. Driving to the store, buying gasoline, and setting the girls and the home on fire was intentional. These men planned for the family to die, hence the whole situation is convincingly premediated. The men projected to kill the family when they entered their home to rob them as the young girls were still alive when the men poured gasoline on them, it would be impossible to believe that the men did not plan for the girls to die when they set them on fire. With such evidentiary proof, the charge of manslaughter would not be appropriate or even justifiable to the deaths and suffering of this family.

Inchoate Offense – Charge Dr. Petit Attempted Murder?

To convict a person that was present during such a ruthless crime and lost his whole family, is a crime to humanity of its ideology. Dr. Petit’s crime was and is still to this day, that he managed to escape while his family suffered the two killer’s mayhem. Dr. Petit ultimately escaped his attackers, stumbling out of his basement and prompting neighbors to call 911 with the hopes of rescuing his family from any further harm that he could barely imagine. He learned from the autopsy reports of his wife and his two daughters causes and all the injuries that his family went through moments before he escaped, and the house was in flames. The report indicated the mother was raped and strangled before the fire, the two young women died of asphyxia after being tied to their beds. When Komisarjevsky and Hayes entered the house, they started by attacking Mr. Petit with a baseball bat and then restrained him and moved him to the basement. He was sleeping before he was attacked and beaten with a baseball bat. Such a blow prior to being asleep and just overall makes any human being disorientated to even consider the situation that he is in and the conditions that he about to encounter.

In accordance with Conn. Gen. Stat. sec. 53a-51. classification of attempt and conspiracy is as follows: Attempt and conspiracy are crimes of the same grade and degree as the most serious offense which is attempted or is an object of the conspiracy, except that an attempt or conspiracy to commit a class A felony is a class B felony.

Dr. Petit had no relation to these killers or took part in any of the criminal acts, so the question or suggestion of even the idea behind inchoate offense or attempted murder does not imply on his escape as it was done to call 911. In accordance with Conn. Gen. Stat. sec. 53-48. (a) A person is guilty of conspiracy when, with intent that conduct constituting a crime be performed, he agrees with one or more persons to engage in or cause the performance of such conduct, and any one of them commits an overt act in pursuance of such conspiracy (b) It shall be a defense to a charge of conspiracy that the actor, after conspiring to commit a crime, thwarted the success of the conspiracy, under circumstances manifesting a complete and voluntary renunciation of his criminal purpose.


The horrific events that were perpetrated on the Petit family on July 23, 2007, Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes faced charges for the unspeakable action they enacted on the family. Though, no amount of sentencing can provide the qualitative justice in comparison to the quantitated distress and fatality that each two men took part in, justice was served in the best way lawfully possible.

Steven J. Hayes and Joshua A. Komisarjevsky were found guilty and sentenced to death by lethal injection, their sentence became a life sentence as the state of Connecticut abolished the death penalty in 2015. Due to such immense investigations, well orientated autopsy reports and the cooperative overall inquiry administered, the criminals were prosecuted and later transferred to separate prison facilities in Pennsylvania to serve for their conduct that led to their convicted crime of carrying out the brutal criminal act of the four members of the Petit family. Dr. Petit serving as representative in the Connecticut House of Representatives, condemned the state’s decision to abolish the death penalty that resulted in the automated change to both killers sentencing. He continued to mention that he believed the court had overstepped its powers and urging the court system to consider the “emotional impact, particularly on victims and their loved ones” that death penalty cases generate. The pain that they caused the family, the nation with the horrific details and the small town’s residents feeling vulnerable and violated, cannot be erased or be ever healed (Casey, 2015).


  • Sec. 53a-54a. Murder. Sub-cited 104 CA 780. . (n.d.). Retrieved from

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