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Sister of slain Connecticut woman reacts to attacker's verdict

Posted November 8, 2010
Updated November 9, 2010

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— The sister of a Connecticut woman who was strangled to death said she thinks the jury made the best decision they could in sentencing one of the co-defendants in the crime to death on Monday.

“This is the kind of punishment that's called for in a horrific crime of this manner,” said Cindy Hawke-Renn, the sister of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, who, along with her daughters, was killed in a July 2007 home invasion.

Hawke-Renn said she traveled to Connecticut from her Chapel Hill home as often as she could for the trial of Steven Hayes, one of the men accused in the crime.

Authorities said Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky broke into the family’s house, beat Dr. William Petit and forced his wife to withdraw money from a bank while the rest of her family remained under hostage at home. Hayes then sexually assaulted and strangled her, authorities said.

Komisarjevsky is charged with sexually assaulting their 11-year-old daughter, Michaela. He has blamed Hayes for escalating the crime.

Michaela and her 17-year-old sister, Hayley, were tied to their beds and had gasoline poured on or around them before the men set the house on fire, according to testimony. The girls died of smoke inhalation.

Petit was able to escape.

Sister of slain Conn. woman reacts to attacker's verdict Chapel Hill woman responds to sentencing of sister's attacker

After four days of deliberations, jurors in New Haven Superior Court voted unanimously to send Hayes to death row.

“In this kind of situation and under these circumstances, I guess the jury did the best they could,”  Hawke-Renn said in a telephone interview with WRAL News on Monday afternoon. 

Petit said the verdict was not about revenge.

"Vengeance belongs to the Lord," Petit said. "This is about justice. We need to have some rules in a civilized society."

Judge Jon Blue will impose the sentence on Dec. 2. Hawke-Renn said she recorded a message that will be played in court.

“This man took away my sister and my only two nieces,” she said.

Komisarjevsky's trial is expected to start next year.

47 Comments

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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Nov 11, 2010

    bubba, the stats I cited ARE "per capita ratio of violent crimes." So, I’m not sure what your point is.

    But, you want see the stats on a big state like TX? Ok. Just compare the largest state (CA) with the TX (the second largest state). According to the chart, California has 5.3 murders/100,000 people...and Texas has 5.4/100,000. California does not have a death penalty. Texas does. CA also has about 50% more people than TX. So, I still don’t see your point.

    At the website I posted, you'll see that the states with NO death penalty, on average, have many LESS murders per person at 2.8 murders/100,000 people versus 4.9 murders/100,000 people in states with the death penalty.

  • lynnsgirl Nov 10, 2010

    Maybe she would have liked for him to have been tied to a bed post, raped, gasoline poured all around him and him burn to death as did her family. Just a passionate thought.

  • thepeopleschamp Nov 9, 2010

    "GEE, he received the death penalty and yet she is still not satisfied. I had said life in prison but accepted what the jury and courts gave him. She should do the same and get some counseling and be able to move on." wildcat

    Gee wildcat, since it was her family that was raped, burned and murdered she is probably a little bit more emotionally involved than you who read about it. You are the one that should move on.

  • AF Flight Nurse Nov 9, 2010

    To the entire Petit family: we are truly, truly sorry about your loss, both of your wife & sister and your two beautiful nieces.

  • shortcake53 Nov 9, 2010

    My heart goes out to this woman. None of us could know the pain she is dealing with, or had to sit and listen to the horrible details of her families deaths. Saying "she will get over it" is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. You "get over" a dented bumper., you dont "get over" having loved ones murdered.

  • Trixie Nov 9, 2010

    If you kill someone and there is no doubt that you did it, you should be executed within the year. No sitting around for decades on taxpayer's money and tying up the court system. We euthanize rabid or agressive animals and these sorry excuses for humans should be treated no differently.

  • snickers27588 Nov 9, 2010

    BlahBlahBlahBlahBlah, WHAT BRAIN?

  • wildcat Nov 9, 2010

    guess the jury did the best they could,” Hawke-Renn said

    GEE, he received the death penalty and yet she is still not satisfied. I had said life in prison but accepted what the jury and courts gave him. She should do the same and get some counseling and be able to move on. Keep the memories for they are precious.

  • wildcat Nov 9, 2010

    It brought me to tears. Very touching!"

    I would love to see those words in writing myself. Where did she come up with that kind of information. The mother and her daughters never made that kind of statement. They were fighting for there life and it was taken.

  • lolly Nov 9, 2010

    "Ms. Hawke-Renn's words on what she hoped happened in her sister's and nieces' final moments was just beautiful. It brought me to tears. Very touching!"

    Where did you hear that? I would love to hear it, too. Thanks in advance, torresjennife.

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