Sep 25, 2010

Fire marshal testifies Friday at Hayes Trial for Petit Family Murders

Today's testimony about the fire once again confirmed my worst fears regarding the crimes and the Petit girl's deaths.

A few months before the crimes I wrote a post about a young college girl at NYU who was raped and tortured all night and left for dead in her off- campus apartment by a repeat sexual predator. In the morning, in an attempt to kill the girl and destroy the DNA evidence, the man poured an accelerant on to her as she lay helplessly bound to her bed, he lit a match and ran out leaving her to die.

Miraculously, the girl used the fire to burn her restraints off and somehow managed to escape the rapidly growing fire, with only mild to moderate burns in addition to severe injuries inflicted by the assailant who was later caught, tried and sentenced to life in prison.

I'd wondered if something like this is what happened with Hayley Petit : Perhaps the fire simply burned the ropes off of her, easily imagined considering the ferocity of it via the gasoline that was strategically and liberally poured upon her body and bed-linens.

When I recently saw the evidence photo of her fire-torn bedroom and the extent of the damage to that bed, my heart sank. I could see right away that there was no way she could have avoided the flames directly, and as such, the fire likely did burn through her binds, rather than the earlier reports that she had somehow "managed to break free of her ties"

I'm not sure how much more heartache that I, nor the rest of the public following this case, can take. The pain is simply boundless. Anyone who knows about these crimes has been deeply traumatized by them . It reaches in to our very core as human beings as it flouts every belief system that we have regarding what it means to be human.
And then then there's the system : As more and more of the evidence is presented, along with the pain, I find myself becoming angrier and angrier.

And that anger is not just aimed at the two men that committed these cruel and cowardly acts, but almost worse - the Connecticut Judicial system, particularly the Parole Board and whatever entity sets the standards for how leniently the state treated their most dangerous repeat offenders.The parole board Chaired by Bob Farr at the time (Farr was again rather surreptiously re-appointed Chairman to the "new and improved" Board formed in the aftermath) released these two career felons, and as per their instructions, the DOC went on to remove Komisarjevskys ankle tracking bracelet two days prior to the Petit crimes. He and Hayes were out robbing houses the very same night the DOC anklet was taken off.

Two days later, Jennifer, Hayley and Michaela Petit were dead and William Petit was severely wounded and in a state of all-consuming grief.

I find it strange that I haven't heard one media outlet, nor web news source covering this trial, make even passing mention about those fatal flaws in Connecticut's Judicial system/ Parole Board that so clearly enabled these crimes to happen.

There is no doubt in my mind that Komisarjevsky was the instigator behind the crimes, He used Hayes as necessary brawn, He clearly lacked brawn at an emaciated looking 5 11 130 lbs. Steven Hayes who is 5 7 and 175 lbs when arrested has dropped considerable weight in prison and barely resembles the imposing man he was at the time of the crimes, clearly seen in earlier Police Photos. Bottomline was, he needed a second guy.

Komisarjevsky was supposed to be in prison for nine - count em - nine years, as per the wishes of the presiding Judge who sentenced him for his last string (string!) of home break-ins - calling them Robberies is a misnomer. This was a man who only broke into homes when people were in them-he described it later as a "form of extreme sport" This is a very different breed indeed than the person who robs for either a) drug money or b) money for whatever greedy or desperate purposes he has.

Instead of being in prison for nine years , Joshua Komisarjevsky was out of prison and into a halfway house after only two and a half years served in prison. And that time was served in a one man cell away from the other inmates at his own request, as he reported being harassed in the General population.

My guess is he was simply anticipating what he would likely go through as a very slight and somewhat feminine looking young man in prison, another fabrication enlisting his parents and prison officials, and once again those same enabling parents and his lawyer intervened once again, and he was quickly removed from any threats, and spent the rest of his short lived sentence protected, alone reading, writing letters, and complaining about how short his exercise time outside was, due to his solitary status. He had visits from his parents and then girlfriend/ mother of his child, she herself not much more than a child at 15 years of age when she became pregnant.

What all of this amounted to was Komisrarjevsky being out of the custody of the DOC after considerably less than half his sentence, and that "time" was not even fully served behind prison bars! This guy had been marked by the presiding Judge way back, that alone is a rarity in most of Connecticut courts, particularly those that preside over larger cities (ie busier, more apt to make oversights, in the name of laziness, speedy adjudication, heavy dockets etc)

This was Komisarjevsky's second such strings of house break-ins, home invasions by State definition today, and his felony charges at the age of 24 had already topped 30!
And remember, his total number of charges were already reduced within multiple plea bargains which were, and still are the preferred method of resolving both violent and non violent offenses in Connecticut.

These strings of crimes in fact consisted of many, many many homes that this man was in and out of on a daily basis, using tools like night vision goggles which he ordered on the Internet, to stalk his victims prior to the break in, carrying knives to supposedly slash screens,. and stealing lingerie and photos of the women, and on occasion multiple family members that lived in the homes.

With the sheer quantities of break-ins alone, there were red flags everywhere and one judge actually caught a few. Labeling Komisarjevsky "a dangerous predator who posed a serious threat to the Connecticut public ( komisarjevsky would later boast about being called a dangerous predator in the halfway house that he wound up in) A strict nine years sentence , plus 6 years of special parole, which was to include intensified supervision, this was the judges intention. This can be found verbatim in his last sentencing hearing report.

Despite his middle class roots, church going parents that dutifully showed up to their sons hearings, despite the suit and tie that his attorney dressed him in and despite the infant child that Komisarjevsky and co. surely tried to use as a prop, hoping to impart either a feigned credibility or another staged solicitation of leniency for himself, using the child and her mother

Note *This is the same child that komisarjevsky referred to in his text messages to Hayes on the night of the Petit murders saying "hold your horses, I'm putting the kid to bed". "The kid." --- Speaks volumes doesn't it?And still, the Judge was unusually stern and unwavering in his sentencing decision regarding this young offender before him, who he knew was certain to escalate to further violence- if not stopped now dead in his tracks by the Connecticut Court System. But his wishes, indeed his instructions, were not realized, nor even considered when the Connecticut Parole Board didn't bother to acquire komisarjevsky's criminal file, as they hadn't for most of the inmates whose names were up before them for Parole consideration at that time.

This was all supposedly due to conflicts regarding copying costs between the prosecutor's departments that handled the criminal cases, and the Parole board. The prosecutors refused to foot the incremental copying costs for copying the criminals files-they felt the parole dept should pay for this if they needed it.

As such, despite periodic protestations from the Parole board that they could not make responsible decisions regarding the inmates that they alone set loose, the issue was not resolved for years, and men and women were paroled regularly nonetheless.

This wasn't one Parole foul-up, this was in fact the daily operating mess that was The Connecticut Judicial system.

In Komisarjevsky's case, the only paperwork the Connecticut Parole board had in their possession was a simple arrest report for his very last arrest - and it was with that one scant bit of information, that Joshua Komisarjevsky was "administratively paroled",A term that means he was not even present for his parole hearing, as was also the standard custom for parole in Connecticut at that time.

His sentence was to include six years special parole, which his Judge clearly felt necessary to protect the people of this state from this man who's breaking into homes only where people lay sleeping in them - Violence was just a matter of time. In fact, the judge had stated verbatim that he intended Komisarjevsky to be" through with the Dept of Corrections by the time he was 37 years old ( he was 24 at that time ) if he used his time in prison wisely"

Joshua Komisrajevsky was 26 when he murdered Jennifer Hayley and Michaela Petit - his ankle bracelet had been removed by the State of Connecticut two days earlier.


Anonymous said...

Thorough and very well written analysis. Is anything being done/addressed on this?

Laurel O'Keefe said...

Thank you,

Yes and No. There is no simple answer to this but I'll give you a snapshot and you can email me, (click full profile and the email link ) and I can fill you in accordingly. I will be writing about these issues soon in an upcoming piece about the Connecticut Judicial system's role in this-and many other crimes that needn't have happened.

There were some special legislative sessions following the crimes, which Governor-Jodi Rell asked for. I watched these sessions on Connecticut's government cable channel live and
I was particulalry disturbed by the grumbling from so many legislators in the house of Representatives, who apparently felt that the only reason they were having a special session was because the victims were from an "affluent" family and lived in an affluent town"!

This was/is complete nonsense and indeed reverse racism at its worsr: the " special" attention was due to the fact that the men caught fleeing from the crime were both early released parole and the crimes were so very abhorrent,Yet the overly-facile mindset kept rearing its ugly head nonetheless within a session that was supposed to be about examining the issues within the judicial system that contributed to these crimes-nnd two other sets of murders that were committed by paroled men during the same few months.

I was shocked, disheartened and very angry to hear more than one Legislator referring to the "elephant or the nine lb gorilla in the room" that "nooone was talking about" but "they all knew was there":

As time went on they explained themselves, citing the notion of elitism, classism, racism, being afoot as evidenced by the entire request by the Governor to be there in the first place!
To me, with this kind of thinking polluting the process, it wasn't likely to render any true and positive changes.

Needless to say, some changes came out of a series of sessions, including the "regular legislative session that Year, but many of the legislators voted againt certain measures that would have prevented these same types of repeat offenders from getting out of prison too soon, therby putting the Ct public at great peril.

It remains to be seen if certain monies that were allocated within some of the bills that passed, were indeed given to the departments within our states court systems and if it was-was it done in such a way that was effective.

More later-
Thank you for your interest and for caring