SOMERS, Conn. (AP) — A man on Connecticut's death row for the murder of a suburban mother and her two daughters says he believes the only way he will be put to death is if he volunteers for lethal injection.
Joshua Komisarjevsky, who was condemned to die for a brutal 2007 home invasion, told The Associated Press in an interview that he considers volunteering to be executed on his darkest days, but not on other days.
In the last half-century, Connecticut has executed only one inmate — a serial killer who was put to death in 2005 after voluntarily waiving his appeals.
"I don't think I'll be executed against my will," Komisarjevsky said in his first interview since he was convicted last year. "I think if I volunteer, the state will execute me."
Wearing a yellow prison jumpsuit, Komisarjevsky kept direct eye contact during the one-hour interview Monday, smiling at times as he spoke by telephone from behind a glass window at Northern Correctional Institution in Somers. He had the same short hair and facial stubble that he had during the trial, but the once-slender inmate has since put on 30 or 40 pounds, which he blamed on depression and lack of movement.
He said he tries not to think about the crime, he suffers no nightmares and has nothing to say to the only survivor of the attack. He said there isn't anything he could say to Dr. William Petit "that will restore the lives lost."
He also declined an opportunity to express remorse for the killings.
"I guess my reaction is not the reaction society expected," Komisarjevsky said.
Cynthia Hawke-Renn, the sister and aunt of the victims, told NBC she wasn't expecting Komisarjevsky to say he was sorry.
"He doesn't have nightmares, but I have nightmares and I can't stop thinking about it," she said. "I wish I could. And I think it's really sad that he doesn't have a conscience and have remorse and apologize to my brother-in-law or my parents."
By turns jovial and introspective, Komisarjevsky made references to an afflicted conscience but said he fills his time in solitary confinement by drawing, watching television and reading and responding to hate mail as well as notes from supporters.
"Some days you're just overwhelmed by the isolation and the difficulties in communicating with loved ones, dealing with your own crisis of conscience," Komisarjevsky said.
Komisarjevsky, 31, was convicted in a crime that unsettled notions of suburban safety and featured prominently in Connecticut's death penalty debate.
He and his co-defendant, Steven Hayes, were convicted of killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters. Hayes raped and strangled Hawke-Petit, while Komisarjevsky sexually assaulted her 11-year-old daughter, Michaela. Michaela and her 17-year-old sister, Hayley, were tied to their beds and died of smoke inhalation after the house was doused in gas and set on fire.
Last month, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed a new law that ends the state's death penalty for future crimes, but it does not apply to those already on death row — a provision that makes it possible for Komisarjevsky and Hayes to still face the possibility of death.
"In order for some to swallow this bitter pill, it was inevitable that we would be left out," Komisarjevsky said.
Asked if would consider volunteering to be put to death, Komisarjevsky said: "I have my days. I think everybody on death row has their days. Some days you'd consider it. Some days you don't."
Still, he said he feels a responsibility to "those who stand behind me," saying they would be hurt by his execution. He didn't specify who his supporters were, though he said his parents and a few friends visit him in prison.
Komisarjevsky's lawyers are expected to file an appeal. But if he waived his appeals, that would remove a major obstacle to execution.
Komisarjevksy said he has not spoken to Hayes, but has seen him passing by on death row, where 11 inmates are each held in individual cells. During separate trials, Komisarjevksy and Hayes each blamed the other for escalating the crime.
"Frankly, we don't have anything to talk about," Komisarjevsky said. "I'm sort of taking the stance let bygones be bygones. I know what I'm culpable for and he knows what he's culpable for."
Among the ways he occupies his time is by drawing. He said one of his works depicts a biblical scene of Daniel in the lion's den that he did for a friend.
Komisarjevsky said he gets two hours per day of recreation time, but he has a television in his cell that gets several channels including the Spanish-language network Telemundo.
"No hablo espanol, so that doesn't do me much good," Komisarjevsky said with a laugh.
He declined to comment directly about the crime, citing the advice of lawyers.
In an audiotaped confession played for the jury in his trial last year, Komisarjevsky admitted that he spotted Hawke-Petit and 11-year-old Michaela at a supermarket and followed them to their house in Cheshire, a suburb of New Haven. After going home and putting his own daughter to bed, Komisarjevsky and Hayes returned to the Petit house in the middle of the night, while the family was sleeping, to rob it.
William Petit was beaten, tied up and taken to the basement. He managed to escape and hop, roll and crawl across a yard to a neighbor's house for help.
Petit advocated keeping the death penalty in Connecticut and last year successfully lobbied state senators to hold off on repeal legislation while Komisarjevsky was still facing a death penalty trial.
Petit declined to comment through a spokesman.
"July 23, 2007, was our personal holocaust," Petit said after Komisarjevsky was sentenced to death, referring to the day his family was killed. "A holocaust caused by two who are completely evil and actually do not comprehend what they have done."
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