Connecticut Death Penalty Ruling Stirs Painful Memories of 3 Grisly Killings

Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky, convicted of the murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, Hayley and Michaela, at their Cheshire home in July 2007. Credit Connecticut Department of Corrections

Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky, convicted of the murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, Hayley and Michaela, at their Cheshire home in July 2007. Credit Connecticut Department of Corrections

Nicholas Casey writes:

CHESHIRE, Conn. — Celine Bonilla was only 11 when she looked out her first-floor window and saw police officers pinning a man down on her front lawn. It was 2007, and that man and an accomplice had just killed two of her friends and their mother, dousing them with gasoline and burning them alive in their home in what became known as one of the grisliest crimes in Connecticut history.

Yet Ms. Bonilla, now an 18-year-old nursing student, said she opposed the death penalty — even for the two men who murdered her neighbors that morning. “They deserve to be in jail,” she said, explaining that she believed executions were cruel and unusual.

The Connecticut Supreme Court expressed a similar opinion on Thursday when it struck down the state’s death penalty law in its entirety, sparing the lives of 11 prisoners, including the two men, Steven J. Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky, who were convicted in the killings here.

While a state law enacted in 2012 had prohibited the imposition of any new death penalty sentences in Connecticut, the court went further with its 4-to-3 decision this week, saying that even those already on death row before the law’s passage could not be executed because the punishment “no longer comports with contemporary standards of decency.”

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: