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The Petits were the model American family: with the father a popular Connecticut doctor, a daughter excited to attend Dartmouth College, another daughter looking forward to her teenage years, and a mother who was a serving as a public example of the fight against MS. The family of four tragically became a party of one, after a deadly home invasion which left the wife and two daughters dead, and the father severely beaten. The two killers held the family hostage for hours before burning their suburban house down. The career criminals also raped Jennifer, and daughters Michaela and Hayle (ages seventeen and eleven) before setting the house on fire.
MSNBC describes the response to the July 2007 murders, "It left the state shocked and people feeling vulnerable in the sense that it happened in a town where violence rarely occurs and it happened in a way that shook civilization, people's idea of civilization."
The two men responsible for the bone-chilling crime, Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes will now stand trial in the Petit deadly home invasion case. The men will be tried separately, with 47 year-old Steven Hayes tried first. Both men were on parole at the time of the murders, which sparked public outrage over the state's method for tracking potentially violent parolees during the months immediately following the murders.
The trial, which is expected to last several months, will have Dr. Petit testify, and will also seek imposition of the death penalty on both men. Since the death of his wife and two daughters, Dr. Petit has become a very outspoken advocate for the death penalty in his family's case. Although Hayes and Komisarjevsky offered a guilty plea in exchange for life sentences, the prosecution in the case did not take the bargain and the trial will be separated into two parts: the determination of guilt followed by whether the imposition of the death penalty is appropriate. Because of the permanency of such a punishment, death penalty cases can be extremely complicated and drawn out, and these upcoming trials are no exception.