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Suspect in deadly Conn. home invasion tries to avoid death penalty

By the CNN Wire Staff
Joshua Komisarjevsky, the second man charged in a brutal 2007 home invasion, says he will plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence.
Joshua Komisarjevsky, the second man charged in a brutal 2007 home invasion, says he will plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence.
  • Attorneys: Komisarjevsky wants to avoid a trial that would cause anguish for families
  • Another man, Steven Hayes, has already been sentenced to death
  • The two men were charged in a home invasion that left a mother and her two daughters dead

(CNN) -- The second man to be tried for a deadly home invasion in Connecticut has asked a court to accept a guilty plea on the condition he would be spared the death penalty.

Attorneys for Joshua Komisarjevsky submitted the motion to the Superior Court of the Judicial District of New Haven on Friday.

Prosecutors alleged that in July 2007, Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes invaded a home in Cheshire; beat and tied up Dr. William Petit; raped and strangled his wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit; molested one of their daughters; and set the family's house on fire before attempting to flee.

The two daughters -- 17-year-old Hayley Petit and 11-year-old Michaela Petit, both of whom had been tied to their beds -- died of smoke inhalation. Petit escaped to a neighbor's home.

But Komisarjevsky's attorneys said in the motion that Hayes -- who was sentenced to death in December after being convicted on 16 of 17 charges related to the invasion -- has admitted to some of the most egregious acts.

"Steven Hayes admitted raping and strangling Mrs. Hawke Petit; Steven Hayes purchased the gasoline and doused the house with it, including specifically over Mrs. Hawke Petit's body; and, as the state has already argued, Steven Hayes lit the fire that culminated in the unnecessary, senseless and tragic deaths of the Petit children," the motion stated.

"Coupled with these realities is the fact while Joshua Komisarjevsky is guilty of many things, he never intended the deaths of Jennifer Hawke Petit or her two daughters, which he explained to law enforcement while giving a prompt and detailed rendition of events that has been corroborated in large measures by the state's forensic evidence," the document continued.

The motion states that Komisarjevsky's primary reason for the conditional plea is to "avoid another lengthy, expensive and emotionally charged trial that will undoubtedly cause extreme mental anguish to the Petit and to the Hawke families, to the community at-large and to his own family, friends and supporters."

Komisarjevsky's murder trial has been scheduled to start September. Lexis Nexis Logo

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