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Vocapedia > USA > Law, Justice > Jury > Verdict


1/2 - Jury > Verdict / Conviction > Guilty


2/2 - Judge > Sentencing





Peter Manfredonia was sentenced to 55 years in prison

for killing two people, injuring another,

holding a man hostage and kidnapping a woman in 2020.


Photograph: Ned Gerard



College student who killed a man with sword

sentenced twice to 55 years in prison


April 21, 2023    11:14 AM ET




















Alex Murdaugh after his conviction on Thursday.


Photograph: Pool photo by Joshua Boucher


Was the Alex Murdaugh Guilty Verdict Too Hasty?


March 6, 2023




















25 November 2021


















































Jury Finds All Three Defendants ​Guilty

In The Murder of Ahmaud Arbery

NBC    24 November 2021





Jury Finds All Three Defendants ​Guilty In The Murder of Ahmaud Arbery

Video    NBC    24 November 2021






















20 April 2021


Anglonautes' note: verdict ≠ sentencing


















Theodore P. Wafer, center,

was led away after being found guilty of second-degree murder

in the shotgun killing of 19-year-old Renisha McBride.


Photograph: Joshua Lott

The New York Times


Detroit-Area Man Convicted of Murdering Teenager on His Porch


August 7, 2014




















12 November 2004




















Danny Lewin, Geoff Shenk, Katherine Lewin and Katie Lewin

read Extra edition put out by the Redwood City Daily News

after the verdict in the Scott Peterson trial

in Redwood City, California, November 12, 2004.


Peterson, 32,

was found guilty

in the Christmas Eve 2002 murder

of his pregnant wife, Laci Peterson,

in a family-next-door case

that captivated America.


The jury also found Peterson guilty

of the second-degree murder of their unborn child.


Photo by Pool/Reuters.


















After a trial that attracted nationwide attention,

California fertilizer salesman Scott Peterson, 32,

was found guilty on November 12, 2004

in the Christmas Eve 2002

murder of his pregnant wife.


Peterson and defense attorney Mark Geragos

are seen in the courtroom November 3.


Photo by Pool/Reuters.

















James Holmes Trial - Verdict

Croaker Queen    16 July 2015





James Holmes Trial - Verdict

Video        Croaker Queen        16 July 2015


Jurors all enter by 7:40, and the verdict is read at 13:20


















Reaction to ‘American Sniper’

Verdict | Eddie Ray Routh Trial

NYT    25 February 2015





Reaction to ‘American Sniper’ Verdict | Eddie Ray Routh Trial

Video        The New York Times        25 February 2015


Judy Littlefield, the mother of Chad Littlefield,

who was killed alongside Chris Kyle,

spoke after the judge delivered a guilty verdict on Tuesday

for Eddie Ray Routh in Stephenville, Tex.


Read the story here: http://nyti.ms/1DUDVst

Watch more videos at: http://nytimes.com/video
























































reach a verdict










verdicts > be read










hear the verdict












at his conviction











USA > guilt        UK










USA > guilty        UK / USA




us/murdaugh-murder-trial-timeline.html - updated March 3, 2023



















guilty verdict
















be guilty

beyond any reasonable doubt / beyond a reasonable doubt






find N guilty















be found guilty in separate trials

on four counts of involuntary manslaughter










 find N guilty

of four counts of involuntary manslaughter










find N guilty in the deaths of N










find N guilty on all counts in N










find N guilty

of six counts of first-degree intentional homicide










find N guilty in the fatal shooting of N











find N guilty

of first-degree murder










find someone guilty

of arranging the fatal shooting of N








find N guilty

of three counts of aggravated indecent assault










be found guilty of 2 out of 3 counts of rape










be found guilty of all three charges

prosecutors had brought against him:

assault with a firearm,

illegal possession of a firearm

and negligent discharge of a gun

for shooting the plaintiff.










be found guilty of murder










be found guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy charges










USA > be found guilty of the first-degree murder of N        UK










be found guilty of four counts of first-degree rape

and numerous other sexual offenses

against eight victims










guilty of first- and second-degree manslaughter charges

in the death of N










be found guilty

of unintentional second-degree murder,

third-degree murder,

and second-degree manslaughter










be found guilty of 2nd-degree murder



















find N guilty

of 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm










 be found guilty

on one count of aggravated rape

and one count of aggravated sexual battery










genital mutilation >

be found guilty of aggravated battery

and cruelty to children


georgia_x.htm - broken link


















Kaitlin Armstrong enters the courtroom

to hear the verdict on her murder trial

at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center

on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023, in Austin, Texas.


Photograph: Mikala Compton



Texas woman is convicted and faces up to life

in prison for killing pro cyclist

The Associated Press


Novembefr 17, 2023    1:26 AM ET

















convict N on two counts of murder

and two counts of using a weapon

during the commission of a violent crime






be convicted

on six counts of second-degree murder






be convicted of murder








be convicted of ‘malice murder’






caged kids case

be convicted of endangering and abuse

caged-kids_x.htm - broken link





enter a no contest plea

emt-killing_x.htm - broken link
















be convicted of negligent homicide






be convicted of capital murder






be convicted of three counts of first-degree murder






be convicted of first-degree murder






be convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice






be found guilty of first-degree murder,

sexual battery on a child, kidnapping and burglary





be found guilty of first-degree murder,

rape and burglary





be found guilty of second-degree murder,

involuntary manslaughter

and a felony weapons charge






be found guilty of involuntary manslaughter






if convicted of the felony alcohol charge,...







































be an indicted felon















the country’s first cyberbullying verdict        2008






cartoons > Cagle > Madoff gets 150 years        2009





































have a felony conviction


















convicted felon








be convicted of capital murder








be convicted of capital crimes










teenagers > convicted as an adult








be convicted of first-degree murder








second degree murder









find N guilty

of three counts of second-degree attempted murder










third degree murder































be convicted

of voluntary manslaughter






be convicted of voluntary manslaughter





be convicted of involuntary manslaughter





be convicted of involuntary manslaughter

and sentenced to prison





be convicted

of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence





be convicted

of second-degree manslaughter
















be convicted of capital murder








USA > be convicted on fraud charges        UK










be convicted of child molestation








penalty phase



















Michelle Lodzinski

entering the courtroom in State Superior Court on Wednesday.


Photograph: Ed Murray

NJ Advance Media,

via Associated Press


Woman Found Guilty of Murder in 1991 Death of Her Son, 5


MAY 18, 2016



















Hernandez was placed in handcuffs

after the verdict was read.


Pool photo by Dominick Reuter


Aaron Hernandez Found Guilty of First-Degree Murder


APRIL 15, 2015



















 Paul Novak on Jan. 31,

after being sentenced in a Sullivan County court.


Photograph: Dawn J. Benko

The Times Herald-Record


The Paramedic Murderer of Narrowsburg, N.Y.


APRIL 10, 2014























be convicted  ≠  be sentenced





be convicted of N






be convicted in N










































sentence N to 30 years to life in prison for raping N






















prison sentences > costs




























evidence-based sentencing


courts use data-driven predictions

of defendants’ future crime risk to shape sentences










sentencing hearing














United States Sentencing Commission






























Fair Sentencing Act of 2010














sentencing > plea deal


















be sentenced

to six years and nine months in prison

for the murder of N










be sentenced to 10 years in prison










be sentenced to 10-15 years










be sentenced to 22 1/2 years














be sentenced

to 23 years in prison










(be) sentenced twice to 55 years in prison










be sentenced to 60 years in prison










be sentenced

to 84 years in prison










be sentenced to 90 years in prison for killing N


















be sentenced

to 25 years to life in prison for N










be sentenced

to 40 to 175 years in prison




















be sentenced

to probation and community service










sentencing order and memorandum opinion

















face more than two decades in prison








face a maximum of about 10 years in prison








face life in prison










get 8 years for bribes








get 12 years for armed robbery
















be sentenced to death





olunteer to be put to death










mentally competent










competency hearing







be ruled mentally competent




























Corpus of news articles


Law, Justice > Jury > Verdict > Guilty >


1/2 - Jury > Verdict > Conviction >


2/2 - Judge > Sentencing




Guilty Verdict in Murder Case

That Involved Singer’s Family


May 11, 2012
The New York Times


CHICAGO — The former brother-in-law of Jennifer Hudson, the singer and actress, was convicted on Friday of murdering her mother, her brother and her young nephew.

With a crush of news and entertainment reporters monitoring her every move, Ms. Hudson, who rose to national fame from one of this city’s toughest neighborhoods, attended the trial, which ran nearly three weeks, and appeared as prosecutors’ first witness, saying she had always disliked William Balfour, now convicted in the case.

“I would tell her over and over again not to marry William,” Ms. Hudson testified about her sister, Julia, who eventually did.

Calling more than 80 witnesses, prosecutors said Mr. Balfour had shot and killed members of the Hudson family in their home in the Englewood neighborhood in October 2008 after growing jealous and possessive of Julia Hudson.

Mr. Balfour’s defense team had characterized the case as largely circumstantial, suggesting that the police hastily focused on Mr. Balfour in a rush to close a case that drew national headlines. Mr. Balfour, 31, faces life in prison.

Prosecutors said Mr. Balfour had been to the Hudson family home on the morning of the shootings, and witnesses said that he had previously been seen with the gun that was used. But no DNA evidence or fingerprints proved Mr. Balfour’s involvement, and defense lawyers told jurors that the work of Ms. Hudson’s brother, Jason — selling drugs, the defense team said — was more likely what led to the shootings.

The jury, six men and six women, deliberated during parts of three days, and had indicated not long before they announced their verdict that they were split. They were sequestered during deliberations in the high-profile case.

The daily machinations of the trial had little to do with Ms. Hudson’s celebrity, which was, nonetheless, ever-present. Reports on the trial noted her tears, her bowed head, her fourth-row seat, her departures from the courtroom and her clothes.

Ms. Hudson drew national attention with appearances on “American Idol” in 2004, then went on to win an Oscar for her role in “Dreamgirls.” In a way, the trial was a reminder of how much her life has been altered.

Ms. Hudson, who testified that she began singing at age 7 at a Baptist church here, no longer lived in her mother’s home in Englewood, a neighborhood troubled by violence and where she said her sister had worked many jobs, including at a Burger King and as a school bus driver. Not long before the deaths, Ms. Hudson told jurors, she had left signed, blank checks for her mother, Darnell Donerson, to pay for items like the family’s gas bill, had bought her sister a computer and had given her brother an S.U.V., apparently the same one that the nephew, Julian King, 7, was later found dead inside.

Guilty Verdict in Murder Case That Involved Singer’s Family,






Death Penalty for 2nd Man

in Connecticut Triple-Murder Case


December 9, 2011
The New York Times


One of Connecticut’s most agonizing courtroom dramas came to an end on Friday as a jury voted to impose the death penalty on the second of two killers of three family members after an ordeal of violence and sexual assault that challenged suburban ideals of safety.

Lawyers for the second convicted killer, Joshua Komisarjevsky, 31, had waged an aggressive fight to avoid a capital sentence since Oct. 13, when he was convicted of the crimes, which drew national attention in 2007. But the jury in New Haven unanimously voted for capital punishment on each of the six capital counts he faced.

Mr. Komisarjevsky’s trial in Superior Court followed the trial of his co-defendant, Steven J. Hayes, who was sentenced to death last year. The two men burst into the home of the Petits in Cheshire, Conn., beat and tied up the father, Dr. William A. Petit Jr., and wreaked havoc for hours before setting the house on fire with the family’s two girls tied to their beds.

The crime and the long court proceedings, attended by Dr. Petit, the lone survivor, brought legal reforms, played a central role in the failure of an effort to repeal the death penalty and seemed to rivet the state until, in recent months, a kind of mass fatigue with the depressing details of the crime and its punishment appeared to set in.

“I believe God’s will has been done,” Dr. Petit said to a crowd outside the courthouse just after the verdict. But, he added, “The pain is there forever.”

One juror, Timothy Anderson, said jurors were sobbing on Friday as they reached the verdict. Mr. Anderson said he was the last to decide to vote for death, “but when you look at the whole thing, it’s so horrific.”

The defense lawyers presented a series of misfortunes that they said Mr. Komisarjevsky had suffered in his life as they worked to change perceptions of him that had been forged by revulsion at the killing of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, and her daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11.

Mr. Hayes was convicted of raping and strangling Ms. Hawke-Petit and killing the daughters, who died of smoke inhalation. At his separate trial, Mr. Komisarjevsky was convicted of the killings and a host of other crimes, including sexually assaulting the 11-year-old and making prurient photographs of her on his cellphone.

In weeks of testimony, the defense lawyers worked to cast Mr. Komisarjevsky as a damaged person worthy of life, though one that would certainly be lived behind prison bars.

The lawyers said that Mr. Komisarjevsky was sexually abused as a child, suffered mood disorders and head injuries, abused drugs and cut himself with glass, knives and razors, and that his evangelical Christian adoptive parents denied him proper care, relying instead on religion.

On Friday night, Mr. Komisarjevsky’s family issued a statement: “From the very beginning, we have spoken out about the horror of the crime and taken the position that whatever verdict the jury reached was the right verdict. With today’s jury decision, our view is the same. The crime was monstrous and beyond comprehension. There are no excuses.”

The killings dominated the state’s front pages and airwaves for so long that some in Connecticut said they had grown weary of Mr. Komisarjevsky’s trial..

Colin McEnroe, one of the state’s best-known columnists and commentators, wrote during the trial that he avoided articles about it because he felt he already knew what he needed to know about the case.

“It is not possible to have lived in this state since 2007 and not know the Petit case,” Mr. McEnroe said. “It enters our night dreams and day musings. There is no vaccine against it.”


Elizabeth Maker contributed reporting.

Death Penalty for 2nd Man in Connecticut Triple-Murder Case,






Doctor Is Guilty

in Michael Jackson’s Death


November 7, 2011
The New York Times


LOS ANGELES — Michael Jackson, among the most famous performers in pop music history, spent his final days in a sleep-deprived haze of medication and misery until finally succumbing to a fatal dose of potent drugs provided by the private physician he had hired to act as his personal pharmaceutical dispensary, a jury decided on Monday.

The physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter nearly two and a half years after Jackson’s shocking death at age 50. The verdict came after nearly 50 witnesses, 22 days of testimony and less than two days of deliberation by a jury of seven men and five women. The trial had focused primarily on whether Dr. Murray was guilty of abdicating his duty or of acting with reckless criminal negligence, directly causing his patient’s death.

Dr. Murray, 58, faces up to four years in prison and the loss of his medical license. He sat stoically as the verdict was read and did not react as he was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs. Judge Michael Pastor ruled that he should be held without bail until his sentencing, set for Nov. 29.

Jackson, who had become a star as a child in Gary, Ind., singing with his siblings in the Jackson 5, grew into one of the best-known performers in the world. Though increasingly eccentric in his later years, often living on a secluded California estate he called Neverland, Jackson always had a fervent core of fans and, despite scandals, his lavish lifestyle and persistent money woes, always seemed just a comeback away from a return to the top.

Hundreds of fans showed their devotion by gathering outside the downtown courthouse throughout the trial — many of them sporting Jackson’s signature single white glove. On Monday, they chanted “Justice, justice” and spent hours after the verdict dancing to his hits, from “Beat It” to “I Want You Back.” Huge crowds had also gathered outside the California court where Jackson was tried, and acquitted, on child molesting charges in 2005.

The singer’s parents, Joe and Katherine Jackson, and siblings La Toya, Jermaine and Randy were in the courtroom for the verdict. The family left the courthouse without speaking to the hordes of reporters gathered outside, simply saying they were “very happy” with the verdict and flashing a thumb.

Dr. Murray, a Houston cardiologist, was paid $150,000 a month to work as Jackson’s personal physician as he rehearsed in Los Angeles for “This Is It,” a series of 50 sold-out concerts in London that he needed to pay off hundreds of millions of dollars in mounting debts.

Testimony showed that Dr. Murray had stayed with Jackson at least six nights a week and was regularly asked — and sometimes begged — by the insomniac singer to give him drugs powerful enough to put him to sleep. Jackson, Dr. Murray told the authorities, was especially eager to be administered propofol, a surgical anesthetic that put him to sleep when other powerful sedatives could not. Testimony indicated that propofol, in conjunction with other drugs in the singer’s system, had played the key role in his death on June 25, 2009.

Prosecutors tried to paint Dr. Murray as a money-hungry physician who would do things no reputable doctor would do — including improperly and recklessly administering an anesthetic normally given only in a hospital. The full retinue of drugs given to Jackson while he was under Dr. Murray’s care was so beyond normal practice, prosecutors said, that it amounted to a “pharmaceutical experiment.”

For its part, the defense tried to portray Jackson as a man so desperate to make his comeback concerts a success that he was willing to take wild chances and grew terrified that he would not be able to perform to his own exacting standards without more rest and less stress.

The morning Jackson died, Dr. Murray told investigators during a recording played in State Superior Court here, the singer told him, “Just make me sleep; it doesn’t matter what happens.”

When Jackson died, he was more than $400 million in debt, but since his death, his estate has prospered, generating more than $310 million and paying off most of his debts.

The estate has struck several lucrative deals, including a movie, video games, a new recording contract and two productions by Cirque du Soleil.

Shortly after Jackson’s death, Dr. Murray told investigators that the pop star would routinely plead with him to administer more propofol, calling it his “milk.” The defense argued that Jackson gave himself the fatal dose of the drug. The Los Angeles County coroner ruled that Jackson’s death was caused by “acute propofol intoxication,” in combination with two other drugs in his system.

Two days after Jackson’s death, Dr. Murray told investigators that he had been using propofol almost nightly for two months to help the singer sleep.

In their closing arguments, prosecutors repeatedly invoked Jackson’s three children to a jury that included nine parents, saying that the singer wanted to perform, in part, so that they could see their father on stage. David Walgren, the deputy district attorney in charge of the case, described the frantic moments after Dr. Murray realized that Jackson was not responsive and as the pop star’s children watched him lie lifeless on his bed.

Prosecutors sought to show that Dr. Murray veered significantly from acceptable medical practice at nearly every turn: by administering the propofol, not having proper monitoring equipment and failing to call 911 right away, among other things. They said Dr. Murray had not kept any records of administering propofol but had taken time to record Jackson’s voice on his iPhone.

He did not tell the paramedics who arrived at Jackson’s home about the propofol, which prosecutors said showed that he knew he was responsible for the singer’s death. Just one day before the trial ended, Dr. Murray decided he would not testify.

Steve Cooley, the Los Angeles County district attorney, said that he hoped the trial would send a message to other “unscrupulous, corrupt” doctors who help fuel patients’ reliance on powerful drugs.

“In Los Angeles we see many examples of high-profile people losing their lives because of their addiction to prescribed medication,” Mr. Cooley said. “To the extent that someone dies as a result of their playing the role of Dr. Feelgood, they will be held accountable.”

Mr. Cooley said that he doubted that Dr. Murray would serve a full four-year sentence because of the state’s chronically overcrowded prisons.

In one of the most dramatic moments in the trial, prosecutors played the iPhone recording Dr. Murray made of Jackson toward the end of his life and the court heard the singer rambling about his dream of building the world’s largest children’s hospital.

“I’m going to do that for them,” Jackson is heard saying in slurred speech. “That will be remembered more than my performances. My performances will be up there helping my children and always be my dream. I love them. I love them because I didn’t have a childhood. I had no childhood. I feel their pain.”

When his voice trailed off, Dr. Murray waited several seconds before asking, “You O.K.?”

After several more seconds, Jackson answered, “I am asleep.”


Ben Sisario contributed reporting from New York,

and Ian Lovett from Los Angeles.

Doctor Is Guilty in Michael Jackson’s Death, NYT, 7.11.2011,






Cheshire Case Jurors

Speak on Death Verdict


November 8, 2010
The New York Times


NEW HAVEN — Day after day since Sept. 13, they sat in the jury box. They had to look at photographs of children who were burned while tied to their beds. They sat feet from grieving family members.

On Monday, the jurors had their verdict for the defendant, Steven J. Hayes, who had wreaked havoc at the Petit house in Cheshire, Conn. It had almost been expected from the start of the home-invasion trial: Death by lethal injection.

As the jurors began to talk publicly about their verdict on Monday night, they said they were certain of it and unified. They said there had never been a deep division on the panel and that the three and a half days of deliberation were to solemnly consider when capital punishment was warranted and then to work through the complexities of the pages of legal questions they had to answer.

But several of them said in interviews that sitting in the Cheshire home-invasion case had been a harrowing experience, thinking for weeks about the two parolees who broke into a suburban home in the middle of the night and killed a mother and her two daughters, beat and tied up the girls’ father and committed countless other offenses.

“It was a challenge to me to see if I have the courage and the strength of character,” said Diane N. Keim, 59, a special-education teacher from Madison. “Other than what you see in movies, I have not seen children burned.”

Herbert R. Gram, 77, also of Madison, said it was the hard-to-hear facts of the home invasion by two intruders with disturbing criminal pasts and the horrifying crime-scene photographs that made the case for capital punishment.

“I’ve seen a lot, and been a lot of places,” Mr. Gram said. “I’ve certainly seen death before.” Then he paused. “This was not easy. There was nothing easy about it.”

Some jurors mentioned that it was impossible to be in the courtroom day after day and not wonder, as they looked at Mr. Hayes, how many more people like him were out there willing to break all the rules and ruin people.

Elizabeth Burbank, 45, an interior designer from New Haven, said she could not help wondering how safe she and the people she loved truly were. “The idea of being invaded while you’re asleep, when you’re vulnerable — we can’t help but worry about it now,” she said.

She used to work in a prison, Ms. Burbank said, and she thought she had a thick enough skin to handle this case. But, she said, “Nothing can ever prepare you for this kind of thing.”

The daily inundation in topics most people do not have to think about took a toll, said Delores A. Carter, a retired health care worker from Hamden. “It was life changing,” she said. “You see everything in a whole new light after you’ve been through something like this.”

As the weeks of testimony went on, the toll on the jurors grew. “The weight just got heavier and heavier,” said Ian Cassell, 35, of New Haven, who was the jury foreman in the penalty phase of the trial.

By the time they had agreed on the death verdict, “all the jurors were really emotional,” Mr. Cassell said. It was a verdict based on the law, he said. “No one is happy. Nothing is better. Nothing is solved.”

The jurors said that reporters had completely misinterpreted the notes they handed court officials during deliberations on Friday and Saturday that seemed to suggest some of them were leaning toward accepting a defense argument that Mr. Hayes should be spared because of a defense claim that he was mentally impaired at the time of the crime.

They said those notes had been purely hypothetical, as they tried to work through confusing legal instructions about the many questions they were required to answer.

They said the jurors worked agreeably, and that three or four seemed particularly upset early in the deliberations at the prospect of voting for an execution. But they said they spent some of Friday and much of Saturday talking philosophically about when capital punishment was warranted.

Mr. Gram said the conversation veered broadly and included discussion of whether society had the right to take a life. In the end, he said, all the jurors agreed that if there was ever a case in which the death penalty was appropriate, the Cheshire case was it.

The sentiment was unanimous, he said. “It was just so heinous and just so over the top and depraved. Here is a case where somebody doesn’t deserve to remain on the face of the earth.”

After the verdict, most of the jurors met with Dr. William A. Petit Jr., who was beaten by the intruders and tied up while his wife and daughters were tormented and killed. After some of the jurors asked for the meeting after the verdict Monday, court officials quietly arranged for it in an out-of-the-way spot in the court building where the jurors and Petit family members had crossed paths for weeks.

Ms. Keim said the meeting was emotional, with jurors hugging members of the family, and Dr. Petit and members of the extended family thanking the jurors for the grueling task they had undertaken.

Ms. Keim said that on the worst days of the trial she had often had a sensation that she would never be able to do what she wanted to do for the Petits and their daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, who were killed after the worst night of their lives.

In the jury box, Ms. Keim said: “I just wanted to hold the girls. I wanted to take whatever they experienced before they died and take it away. But it wasn’t in my power.”

Ms. Keim said she would not forget something one of the girls’ grandmothers had said in the jurors’ meeting with the family members. The elderly woman told the jurors, “We’re so sorry we had to put you through this.”


Robert Davey and Elizabeth Maker contributed reporting.

Cheshire Case Jurors Speak on Death Verdict, NYT, 8.11.2010,






Jurors Vote for Death

in Conn. Triple-Murder Case


November 8, 2010
The New York Times


NEW HAVEN — A jury in Connecticut voted on Monday to impose the death penalty for a long-time criminal convicted for his role in a home invasion in Cheshire, Conn., that left a mother and her two daughters dead. The panel had deliberated just more than three full days.

The jurors stood in the jury box, some looking drawn, as the clerk of the court read through the long verdict form they had filled out. Some members of the victims’ family rested their heads on the benches in front of them. The defendant, Steven J. Hayes, sat motionless at the defense table.

The 2007 crime horrified, fascinated and repelled from the start. It was called one of the worst in Connecticut history and was compared with the grisly family murder that was the centerpiece of Truman Capote’s account of a 1959 family killing in Kansas, “In Cold Blood.”

The details were stark: two habitual criminals invaded the quiet suburban home of a doctor and his family after spotting them in a shopping center parking lot the day before. In a night and morning of unimaginable terrors, they beat and tied up the doctor, forced the mother to withdraw $15,000 from a bank, before sexually abusing her and her youngest daughter, then strangling the mother and setting a blaze that killed her two daughters and blackened the home.

The killings brought a searching review of criminal justice and corrections practices in the state and, particularly during the recent election, came to be the prism through which the state viewed a debate about the future of the death penalty.

Mr. Hayes, a parolee at the time of the 2007 crime, has spent much of his adult life as a prisoner.

Connecticut provides for execution by lethal injection. But because of appeals, death penalty lawyers said it would probably be many years before Mr. Hayes faced execution, if he ever does. A serial killer, Michael Ross, was executed in Connecticut in 2005 after he decided to forgo further appeals, but he was the first inmate executed in New England since 1960.

Mr. Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky, who has yet to be tried, entered the home of the Petit family in a bucolic Cheshire neighborhood on July 23, 2007.

By the time they left with a squeal of rubber from the family’s stolen minivan, the family’s two daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, as well as the mother of the family, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, were dead in a house that had been set ablaze with gasoline the intruders had spread.

More than three years later, the trial — which began on Sept. 13 — featured graphic details of the beating of the father, Dr. William A. Petit Jr., who survived, as well as descriptions of arson, children tied to their beds, the forced trip to a bank where the mother vainly tried to placate the intruders by withdrawing $15,000, and sexual assaults of Ms. Hawke-Petit and the younger of the Petit girls.

But it also featured a catalog of arguments by the defense to try to defeat a potential death sentence. The claims included assertions that Mr. Hayes “can’t live with himself,” and was suicidal and remorseful. The defense lawyers also brought out testimony portraying Mr. Hayes as a klutz of a criminal, while a witness called by the defense described Mr. Komisarjevsky as “the devil,” a comparison the defense lawyers fostered through weeks of testimony.

Mr. Komisarkevsky’s prison journals, read into evidence at the request of Mr. Hayes’s lawyers, made him a central character of Mr. Hayes’s trial, though he was never present. The journals presented a chilling view of Mr. Komisarjevsky as a man who thrived on the excitement of the crime and had hoped to kill himself and Mr. Hayes by crashing into a police roadblock not far from the Petit’s blazing home.

In excruciating detail, Mr. Komisarjevsky described beating Dr. Petit and sexually assaulting 11-year old Michaela. He is expected to be tried next year.

The trial was an emotional journey for the jurors, who were sometimes tearful as they reviewed photographs of the burned bodies and heard testimony about matter-of-fact confessions made both by Mr. Hayes and Mr. Komisarjevsky. Each man said the other had taken the night and morning on an unexpected path toward violence that had not been planned.

Mr. Hayes claimed Mr. Komisarjevsky busied himself trying to send cell-phone photographs displaying the child he had abused to his friends during the crime. Mr. Komisarjevsky said Mr. Hayes’s rape and strangulation of Ms. Hawke-Petit “brought both of us to a whole different level.”

The story of the crime “will break your hearts,” the chief defense lawyer, Thomas Ullmann, told the jurors in his opening statement at the start of the trial.

Jurors Vote for Death in Conn. Triple-Murder Case, NYT, 8.11.2010,






Convictions on 16 Counts

in Triple-Murder Case


October 5, 2010
The New York Times


NEW HAVEN — A former parolee with a long history as a petty criminal was convicted of capital crimes on Tuesday for his part in a nighttime home invasion in Cheshire, Conn., three years ago that left a woman and her two daughters dead. The jury deliberated less than one full day.

The defendant, Steven J. Hayes, who, the testimony showed, described his eager anticipation of the crime with an “LOL” — laughing out loud — text message hours before taking part in murder, rape, kidnapping and assault at the home of the Petit family, was convicted of 16 of 17 crimes in all; he was acquitted of arson.

Six of the crimes he was convicted of make him eligible for the death penalty. The same jury that sat during the three-week trial must soon determine, in a penalty phase that could last a month, whether Mr. Hayes is to be sentenced to death. The penalty phase is to begin on Oct. 18.

“There is some relief, but my family is still gone,” Dr. William A. Petit Jr., whose wife and two daughters were killed, said after the verdict. “It doesn’t bring them back. It doesn’t bring back the home that we had.”

The testimony in Judge Jon C. Blue’s courtroom in State Superior Court here showed that Mr. Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky, a friend from a Connecticut halfway house for parolees, entered the house on July 23, 2007; beat and restrained Dr. Petit, now 53; and wreaked havoc, including the rape and strangulation of Dr. Petit’s wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48. The two daughters, Michaela, 11, and Hayley, 17, died of smoke inhalation in a fire the intruders were accused of setting.

The news that there was a verdict came to the sixth-floor courtroom with a quiet knock from the jury room door about 12:25 p.m.

In a case featuring extensive evidence, including confessions from the defendant, there was never much suspense. Still, as the families of Dr. Petit and his murdered wife filed into the room, there was tension.

After a few preliminaries, the foreman rose and began answering the court clerk’s questions by repeatedly saying, “Guilty.” He spoke without a tremor, and without notes. The answer was the same until he reached the 16th of the 17 counts, this one for arson. “Not guilty,” he said.

The jurors, who may not speak publicly until the penalty phase of the case is complete, offered no explanation.

Finally, the foreman announced a final “guilty” for the last count, the assault of Dr. Petit with a baseball bat.

Mr. Hayes, 47, stood between his two lawyers, smaller than both of them. He was convicted of the murders of all three victims, kidnapping, burglary, the rape of Ms. Hawke-Petit and all six of the capital felony counts he faced.

The judge sent the jurors home with instructions: “Think of yourselves as jurors in the middle of a trial.” Then the marshals handcuffed Mr. Hayes, and he was taken out through a side door.

Dr. Petit fought back tears as he huddled with the chief prosecutor, Michael Dearington. Then, moments later, he emerged from the courthouse into a chill drizzle with members of his family and his wife’s family lined up behind him.

He was asked how he had the strength to keep going through the court ordeal. Speaking calmly, and with his father clutching his arm tightly, he looked around the crowd and said that each of them would do the same thing “if your family was destroyed by evil.”

The acquittal on the single arson count seemed to perplex the defense lawyers, Thomas J. Ullmann and Patrick Culligan.

Little more than two hours after they started deliberating on Monday, jurors sent a note asking the judge to define what it meant in the law to start a fire, and whether the pouring of gasoline would be considered starting a fire. Testimony suggested that Mr. Hayes bought gasoline in plastic containers the morning of the killings and, in a jailhouse confession to another inmate, he said he had poured gasoline “on the stairs” in the Petit home.

But it was unclear how much of the gasoline may have been spread by Mr. Komisarjevsky, who still faces trial. The chief prosecutor told the jury that the evidence suggested Mr. Hayes had started the fire as the two ran from the house.

Convictions on 16 Counts in Triple-Murder Case, NYT, 5.10.2010,






Verdict in MySpace Suicide Case


November 27, 2008
The New York Times


LOS ANGELES — A federal jury here issued what legal experts said was the country’s first cyberbullying verdict Wednesday, convicting a Missouri woman of three misdemeanor charges of computer fraud for her involvement in creating a phony account on MySpace to trick a teenager, who later committed suicide.

The jury deadlocked on a fourth count of conspiracy against the woman, Lori Drew, 49, and the judge, George H. Wu of Federal District Court, declared a mistrial on that charge.

Although it was unclear how severely Ms. Drew would be punished — the jury reduced the charges to misdemeanors from felonies, and no sentencing date was set — the conviction was highly significant, computer fraud experts said, because it was the first time that a federal statute designed to combat computer crimes was used to prosecute what were essentially abuses of a user agreement on a social networking site.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Ms. Drew could face up to three years in prison and $300,000 in fines, though she has no previous criminal record. Her lawyer has asked for a new trial.

In a highly unusual move, Thomas P. O’Brien, the United States attorney in Los Angeles, prosecuted the case himself with two subordinates after law enforcement officials in Missouri determined Ms. Drew had broken no local laws.

Mr. O’Brien, who asserted jurisdiction on the ground that MySpace is based in Los Angeles, where its servers are housed, said the verdict sent an “overwhelming message” to users of the Internet.

“If you are going to attempt to annoy or go after a little girl and you’re going to use the Internet to do so,” he said, “this office and others across the country will hold you responsible.”

During the five-day trial, prosecutors portrayed Ms. Drew as working in concert with her daughter, Sarah, who was then 13, and Ashley Grills, a family friend and employee of Ms. Drew’s magazine coupon business in Dardenne Prairie, Mo.

Testimony showed that they created a teenage boy, “Josh Evans,” as an identity on MySpace to communicate with Sarah’s nemesis, Megan Meier, who was 13 and had a history of depression and suicidal impulses.

After weeks of online courtship with “Josh,” Megan was distressed one afternoon in October 2006, according to testimony at the trial, when she received an e-mail message from him that said, “The world would be a better place without you.”

Ms. Grills, who is now 20, testified under an immunity agreement that shortly after that message was sent, Megan wrote back, “You’re the kind of boy a girl would kill herself over.” Megan hanged herself that same afternoon in her bedroom.

Although the jury appeared to reject the government’s contention that Ms. Drew had intended to harm Megan — a notion underlying the felony charges — the convictions signaled the 12 members’ belief that she had nonetheless violated federal laws that prohibit gaining access to a computer without authorization.

Specifically, the jury found Ms. Drew guilty of accessing a computer without authorization on three occasions, a reference to the fraudulent postings on MySpace in the name of Josh Evans.

Legal and computer fraud experts said the application of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, passed in 1986 and amended several times, appeared to be expanding with technology and the growth of social networking on the Internet. More typically, prosecutions under the act have involved people who hack into computer systems.

“Keep in mind that social networking sites like MySpace did not exist until recently,” said Nick Akerman, a New York lawyer who has written and lectured extensively on the act. “This case will be simply another important step in the expanded use of this statute to protect the public from computer crime.”

Other computer fraud experts said they found the verdict chilling.

“As a result of the prosecutor’s highly aggressive, if not unlawful, legal theory,” said Matthew L. Levine, a former federal prosecutor who is a defense lawyer in New York, “it is now a crime to ‘obtain information’ from a Web site in violation of its terms of service. This cannot be what Congress meant when it enacted the law, but now you have it.”

Ms. Drew, who showed little emotion during the trial, sat stone-faced as the clerk read the jury’s verdict and left the courtroom quickly, her face red and twisted with rage.

Her lawyer, H. Dean Steward, said outside the courthouse that he believed the trial was grandstanding by Mr. O’Brien in an effort to keep his job, with the coming change in the White House.

“I don’t have any satisfaction at all,” Mr. Steward said of the verdict.

Judge Wu scheduled a hearing on the request for a new trial for late December.

Since the story surrounding the suicide became public last year, Mr. O’Brien has discussed with his staff how his feelings as a parent motivated him to bring the charges against Ms. Drew. He alluded to those feelings on Wednesday at a news conference.

“This was obviously a case that means a lot to me,” he said.

The case has been a collection of anomalies. Judge Wu appeared ambivalent regarding some key issues at the trial, like whether any testimony about Megan’s suicide would be allowed (he did allow it) and how to rule on a defense motion to throw out the charges (he had not ruled as of Wednesday).

Judge Wu was appointed to the federal bench less than two years ago, and it is difficult to establish his sentencing record. But Mr. Akerman, the computer fraud expert, said jail time was common even for first-time offenders in computer fraud cases.

“If I were her,” he said of Ms. Drew, “I would not be celebrating over the Thanksgiving weekend.”

Tina Meier, Megan’s mother, said in a news conference after the verdict that she hoped Ms. Drew would serve jail time, and that she felt satisfied.

“This day is not any harder than the day when I found Megan,” Ms. Meier said. “This has never been about vengeance. This is about justice. For me it’s absolutely worth it every single day sitting in that court hoping there was justice.”

Verdict in MySpace Suicide Case,






Utah man gets six years to life

for killing wife


Tue Jun 7, 2005

1:33 AM ET


By James Nelson


SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - A Utah man who confessed to killing his pregnant wife to try and cover up his own lies about his education and plans to become a doctor was sentenced to six years to life in prison on Monday.

Mark Hacking, 29, who appeared in court hand-cuffed and wearing a bullet-proof vest amid tight security, broke down in tears, saying he was "tormented" by the killing.

He pleaded guilty in April to shooting his wife Lori while she slept and then throwing the body into the garbage.

"She was the greatest thing that ever happened to me, but I killed her and put her and my unborn child in the garbage. And I can't explain why I did it," he said in a hearing before the sentence was handed down.

The sentence was the only one that Judge Denise Lindberg could hand down under state guidelines but she called Hacking "the poster child for dishonesty."

Lindberg said a parole board would determine how long Hacking would serve but said she would recommend he stay in prison a "very, very long time."

The murder drew international attention when Lori Hacking, 27, was reported missing July 19 by her husband who told police she had never returned from a morning jog.

Police quickly focused on Mark Hacking as a suspect.

Shortly before the murder Hacking had told friends and family he had been accepted to a medical school. Records later showed he had not graduated from college.

In October police found Lori Hacking's badly decomposed body in a landfill. They were unable to determine if she was pregnant at the time of her death, a factor that deterred prosecutors from seeking the death penalty.

Lori's mother, Thelma Soares, told the judge since her daughter's death she had received correspondence and gifts from concerned people in every state in America and 63 nations.

"Mark's infamy extends well beyond the borders of Utah," she said. "He killed my daughter and grandchild and then threw them in the trash with the intent that they never be found and that I never know what happened to them. Those acts constitute the very epitome of depraved indifference."

"I can't think of one good reason why Mark should ever walk free again," Soares told the judge.

Several members of the Hacking family made statements to the judge including Mark's brother Scott Hacking. "We will continue to love Mark and pray for him," he said.

Utah man gets six years to life for killing wife,
Tue Jun 7, 2005,
1:33 AM ET,










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