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Prosecutor Says He Will Seek Death Penalty In Home Invasion Case

CHESHIRE, Conn. (AP) _ Two men were charged Thursday with murdering a prominent physician's wife and two daughters in a home invasion and arson this week, crimes police and family said occurred after the killers happened to notice two of the victims in a store.

New Haven State's Attorney Michael Dearington said he will seek the death penalty against Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes, who were each charged with six capital felony counts. They previously were charged with assault, sexual assault, kidnapping, robbery, arson and other counts in Monday's attack.

A police source close to the investigation confirmed reports that Komisarjevsky and Hayes spotted Jennifer Hawke-Petit and one of her daughters at a grocery store Sunday and followed their car home.

Police gave family members the same account, said Glenn Petit, Hawke-Petit's brother-in-law.

``They were attracted to the car,'' he told The Associated Press, though he was not sure what model Hawke-Petit was driving. ``They liked the car, followed her home, thought she lived in a nice house.''

Authorities say the men broke into the home of Dr. William Petit Jr. early Monday morning and held the family hostage for several hours. One of them forced Petit's wife to make a withdrawal at a local bank later that morning, triggering suspicion among bank employees, police said.

Police were notified and rushed to the Petits' home, where they encountered the fleeing suspects and found the family's home ablaze. Petit, who remained in stable condition at St. Mary's Hospital on Thursday, had been beaten and bound in the basement but managed to escape the fire. The bodies of his wife and their daughters _ 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela _ were found inside.

``He's doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances,'' Glenn Petit said of his brother. ``Emotionally, he's a mess. He is stunned right now. He's had his family taken from him.''

The suspects were apprehended after they crashed their getaway vehicle _ the Petits' car _ into three police cruisers. Komisarjevsky, 26, and Hayes, 44, were each being held on $15 million bond.

Convicted burglars with lengthy criminal records, they were out on parole when the attack occurred. They had been roommates for a time at a drug treatment center and halfway house in Hartford last year.

Komisarjevsky is a member of a prominent family in the stage arts. He is the grandson of Theodore Komisarjevsky, a Russian theater director and designer, and Ernestine Stodelle, a former dancer, dance critic, author and studio director.

``It was a monstrous, deranged act, beyond comprehension,'' his family said in a statement released Thursday.

``We cannot and will not condone anything the accused have done. Justice needs to take place,'' the family said. ``We can add nothing more _ simply to repeat how tragic this is and how much our thoughts and prayers go out to the Petit family and friends.''

Komisarjevsky lived a few miles from the Petits, but it was not clear if there was any connection between them.

Hawke-Petit, 48, was strangled and her daughters died of smoke inhalation, according to the state medical examiner. The mother and younger daughter were sexually assaulted, according to arrest documents.

The crime has prompted the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Parole to review its policies. Gov. M. Jodi Rell said Thursday she wants an in-depth review of the state's procedures for charging, sentencing and releasing criminals.

Neither suspect had any history of violent crimes when they were paroled this spring, though Komisarjevsky had committed a string of burglaries where he wore military night vision goggles and burglarized homes while the occupants slept.
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