NEW HAVEN, Conn. – A Connecticut jury deciding whether a man should get the death penalty for killing a woman and her two daughters in a home invasion was focused Wednesday on a defense argument that he should get a life sentence because he played a lesser role than his accomplice.
Jurors ended their third day of deliberations without a verdict in the sentencing of Joshua Komisarjevsky, but sent out their first questions seeking guidance on how to weigh his role against that of his accomplice.
Komisarjevsky's lawyers argue that he should be spared the death penalty because he played a relatively minor role compared to his accomplice, Steven Hayes.
The jury asked if that argument is satisfied for one of six capital felony counts if Komisarjevsky played a relatively minor role in only one of the three killings. The judge said yes.
Jurors also asked how to determine if Komisarjevsky played a minor role in the mother's death. Hayes was convicted of strangling Jennifer Hawke-Petit, and the jurors asked if they should only take into account the strangulation or actions leading up to her death.
Judge Jon Blue referred jurors back to their guilt finding, in which they determined Komisarjevsky intentionally aided Hayes in causing her death during the kidnapping. He said jurors must determine if Komisarjevsky played a relatively minor role in helping Hayes in causing her death during the kidnapping.
Hayes is on death row for killing Hawke-Petit and her daughters, who were tied to their beds and left to die in a fire. Komisarjevsky was convicted in October of the killings and of sexually assaulting Hawke-Petit's 11-year-old daughter.
Jury deliberations resume Thursday in New Haven Superior Court.
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