Conn. Home Invasion Update: Second defendant Joshua Komisarjevsky offers to plead guilty, avoid death penalty

Joshua Komisarjevsky
Conn. Home Invasion Update: Second defendant Joshua Komisarjevsky offers plea to avoid death penalty
Joshua Komisarjevsky

(CBS/AP) HARTFORD, Conn. - Joshua Komisarjevsky, the second defendant facing a death penalty trial for the slayings of a mother and her two daughters in an infamous Connecticut home invasion four years ago, has offered to plead guilty to all charges in exchange for a life sentence without parole, according to court documents filed Friday.

PICTURES: The Petit Family

Authorities say 30-year-old Komisarjevsky, and co-defendant, Steven Hayes, brutally murdered Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, 11-year-old Michaela and 17-year-old Hayley, following a night of terror inside their Chesire home in 2007. Dr. William Petit, Hawke-Petit's husband and the girls' father, was beaten with a baseball bat, but survived the attack.

Komisarjevsky's plea offer comes less than a week before the start of jury selection for his trial in New Haven Superior Court.

The motion formally asks the court to accept a conditional plea that Komisarjevsky previously offered prosecutors. In the motion filed Friday defense attorneys claimed that Komisarjevsky is making the offer 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."

Hayes, who was sentenced to death in early December after jurors found him guilty on 16 of 17 charges, including six capital felonies, made a similar plea offer but it was rejected.

In the court papers Friday, defense lawyers say Komisarjevsky told police following his arrest that he never intended for the family to be killed.

"I'm like I'm not killing anyone, there's no way," the motion quotes Komisarjevsky as telling Hayes moments before the slaying.

Komisarjevsky and Hayes, 47, were both paroled burglars who blamed each other for escalating the attack. But prosecutors claim both men were equally responsible, saying the family was tormented for seven hours before they were killed.

Police say the girls were tied to their beds, with gasoline poured on or around them, before the house was set ablaze, leading to their deaths from smoke inhalation.

Jury selection for Komisarjevsky's murder trial is scheduled to begin March 16, a process that could take months as lawyers for both sides question prospective jurors.

The trial is expected to start in September.

Click here for complete coverage of the Petit case on Crimesider.