NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A jury condemned a man to death Friday for killing a woman and her two daughters during a night of terror in their suburban home, a gruesome crime that evoked comparisons to Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” and halted momentum to abolish the death penalty in the state.
The jury took five days to deliberate defense attorneys’ request to spare the life of Joshua Komisarjevsky in light of abuse he suffered as a boy. Komisarjevsky, who will join his accomplice, Steven Hayes, on Connecticut’s death row, stood rigidly with his arms behind his back and had no visible reaction.
The two paroled burglars tormented a family of four in the affluent New Haven suburb of Cheshire before killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and leaving her daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela, to die in a fire.
The only survivor, Dr. William Petit, was beaten with a baseball bat and tied up but escaped. He appeared calm as the verdict was pronounced, his eyes blinking rapidly and his hand clenched in a fist on the seat in front of him. He later bowed his head and closed his eyes.
Bill seeks to require drug screening for jobless benefits
WASHINGTON — Seeking unemployment benefits? Be prepared to take a drug test if a congressman has his way.
Legislation introduced by Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., would require applicants for federally subsidized jobless benefits to fill out a drug screening questionnaire to determine whether they should have to take a drug test. Those identified as having a high probability of drug use would be required to pass a drug test.
“Drug screening as a condition of unemployment benefits safeguards valuable taxpayer dollars by ensuring job seekers are at their competitive best for re-employment and helps to reduce the nation’s debt by not using federal resources to enable an individual’s drug dependency,” Kingston said in a letter to colleagues seeking their support.
The proposal has already drawn partisan criticism.
“This is just another attempt to demonize the unemployed, most of whom have no job [through] no fault of their own,” said Rep. George Miller of California, top Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
Cat’s 26 toes help boost Milwaukee animal shelter
GREENDALE, Wis. — In a reversal of fortunes, a once-unwanted cat has come to the rescue of an animal shelter in need of a new home.
The orange-and-white tabby named Daniel has a near-record 26 toes, a phenomenon that is helping the nonprofit Milwaukee Animal Rescue Center raise money to relocate to a new building.
Normal cats have 18 toes, but Daniel has two extra on each foot due to a genetic mutation called polydactylism.
Officials at the center found out their rent at a Milwaukee-area mall was being doubled on Jan. 1. So, the shelter is buying a new building and is seeking small donations of $26 — or $1 per toe.
They’ve collected enough so far to secure the financing with about $80,000 raised since Oct. 24, but they hope to raise $120,000 by Dec. 23 so they can become even more financially stable. About $50,000 of the money raised has come from $26 donations.
Fire at Indian hospital kills 89 as staff flees
KOLKATA, India — Fleeing medical staff abandoned patients to a fire that killed 89 people Friday as black smoke poured through the seven-story hospital in this city in eastern India, officials said. Six administrators were arrested.
Residents of a nearby slum who first noticed the smoke and fire rushed to the AMRI Hospital to raise the alarm, but security guards kept them back, saying it was only a small blaze, witnesses said.
It took firefighters in the city formerly known as Calcutta more than an hour to respond, said Pradeep Sarkar, a witness whose uncle was hospitalized but was among those safely evacuated from the private facility. Some of the slum dwellers helped with the rescue.
Six hospital directors surrendered to police and were charged with culpable homicide, according to police who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.