Connecticut Sees 'Red' After Horrific Home-Invasion Murders
By David Paulin
Blue-state Connecticut has undergone a jolting metamorphosis over the past three years, with potential ramifications for the Senate contest between Linda McMahon and Richard Blumenthal. Many residents have become a lot more like red-state Texans than blue-state New Englanders. Now, they're enthusiastic supporters of the death penalty and are fond of handguns and shotguns. It's all due to a horrific home invasion in 2007 in the affluent town of Cheshire, a New Haven suburb.
Chilling details of the "Cheshire Murders," as they're known, have played out in a New Haven courtroom this fall during the first of two trials. Now, the proceedings are in the penalty phase after Steven Hayes, 48, was convicted of murder and rape. Jurors must decide if he should get life in prison or the death penalty. According to a recent opinion poll, Connecticut residents overwhelmingly favor lethal injection.
On July 23, 2007, at 3 a.m., Hayes and fellow career criminal Joshua Komisarjevsky, now 30, burst into the home of the Petit family. Three family members were murdered: Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, and daughters Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11. Mrs. Petit and Michaela were raped. The sole survivor was Dr. William A. Petit, Jr., then 50, a prominent physician and diabetes specialist who was beaten senseless with a baseball bat and tied up. He eventually freed himself and stumbled out of his home to summon help from neighbors.
Interestingly, the Cheshire Murders have repeatedly overshadowed Connecticut politics -- putting anti-death penalty Democrats on the defensive. Democrat lawmakers in May 2009 revealed themselves to be out of touch with voters when pushing through a vote to abolish Connecticut's death penalty. It followed a debate overshadowed by the "Cheshire Murders." Governor M. Jodi Rell, a Republican, vetoed the law.
Murder and rape normally are unheard of in places like Cheshire, rated by Money Magazine as one of the best places to live in America. They don't happen to families like the Petits, all of whom were accomplished, highly respected, and active in community affairs. The horrific home invasion offered Connecticut residents an appalling glimpse of something liberals and Connecticut's Democratic lawmakers seem unable to understand: criminals who commit unspeakable evil -- and the limits of the police's ability to protect law-abiding citizens from such predatory monsters.
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