TODAY   |  December 10, 2011

Family welcomes death penalty in Petit case

The parents and sister of Jennifer Hawke Petit, who was murdered along with her two daughters in their Connecticut home in 2007, tell TODAY’s Lester Holt that they were relieved Friday to hear the second death penalty recommendation on Friday, but they feel that no punishment is enough for what the men did.

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LESTER HOLT, co-host: After deliberating for five days, a Connecticut jury has now condemned a second man to death for his role in a brutal home invasion that ended with the murders of a mother and her two daughters. We'll talk to the relatives of the victims in a moment, but first NBC 's Mara Schiavocampo has the latest.

MARA SCHIAVOCAMPO reporting: More than four years after losing his entire family in what's been called the worst crime in Connecticut history, for Dr. William Petit , justice has finally been served.

Dr. WILLIAM PETIT (Husband/Father of Victims): We are satisfied that the defendant has been judged to be the murderer, the rapist and criminal that he is and now he's been condemned to the ultimate penalty.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: Hours earlier, a jury condemned 31-year-old Joshua Komisarjevsky to death on all six counts for his role in the home invasion that ended with the death of Dr. Petit 's wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit , and their two young daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela .

Unidentified Man: The deliberations were very intense.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: The defendant showed no emotion as the jury read his sentence. In separate trials, Komisarjevsky and accomplice Steven Hayes were convicted of breaking into the Petit family's affluent Cheshire home in 2007 , beginning

a horrifying seven-hour ordeal: tying them up, beating Dr. Petit with a baseball bat , and sexually assaulting and killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit before dousing Hayley and Michaela with gasoline and setting the house on fire. The girls died of smoke inhalation. Komisarjevsky 's own words may have helped seal his fate. During the trial, prosecutors played his audiotaped confession, calmly sharing chilling details of the crime.

Mr. JOSHUA KOMISARJEVSKY: I hit him in the head with the baseball bat . He let out this, this unearthly scream.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: Komisarjevsky will now join Steven Hayes on death row , one very small measure of comfort...

Dr. PETIT: There's never complete closure.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: ...for a family that lost so very much. For TODAY, Mara Schiavocampo, NBC News, New York.

HOLT: We're joined here in the studio now by Jennifer Hawke-Petit 's sister Cynthia Hawke Renn , and her parents, Marybelle and Reverend Richard Hawke . And good morning to all of you. Thanks for coming on with us.

Ms. CYNTHIA HAWKE RENN (Jennifer Hawke-Petit's Sister): Thank you.

Reverend RICHARD HAWKE (Jennifer Hawke-Petit's Father): Thank you.

HOLT: Cynthia , your family suffered this unspeakable tragedy. You suffered having to watch two trials and now this. Are you satisfied with the justice in this case?

Ms. RENN: I do feel that justice has been served. I feel like it was a very long process and that the jurors had a lot of weight on their shoulders to look at and try to make a decision about.

HOLT: Reverend Hawke , there are, I think, 10 more men on death row in Connecticut .

Rev. HAWKE: Yes.

HOLT: And I think it's been since 1960 Connecticut has put anyone to death . What do you think the ultimate outcome will be here?

Rev. HAWKE: I doubt, from what I understand about the Connecticut law, that they probably will not be put to death , but they will spend the rest of their lives in prison. That there are some men who have been on there for, I believe, two decades and I don't think that's going to change much in Connecticut , and we will probably be dead before they'll ever be put to death .

HOLT: I want to ask you about some of the testimony in the case. Komisarjevsky , his defense had argued that his life should be spared because he had suffered sexual abuse as a boy. How did that go down for all of you, having to listen to what you listened to about your loved ones and then to hear that? Cynthia ?

Ms. RENN: I feel that people have to take responsibility for what has happened to them in their lives and seek counseling, and I don't think it's any excuse for a crime. You know, there are many people in our country who have been sexually abused who certainly don't go out and commit murders times three and create it in such a horrific way like this was done.

HOLT: Marybelle , let me get your thoughts on both of these defendants, now convicts, that argued that the other one kind of escalated things along. In your view, do they share equal blame in terms of the sequence of events on that horrible day?

Ms. MARYBELLE HAWKE (Jennifer Hawke-Petit's Mother): Yes. I think they were partnered right from the beginning and they connived even from their beginning through the whole process to make for a very, very terroristic experience for our grandchildren and their mother. Just Jennifer was such a believer in people and a helper of people that she was willing to go and get the money that they were requesting, But that the promise was that her family would be not bothered. And, of course, she is a very trusting person, as we all are, of other people. And so it's -- it was a tragic thing for our lives and we go on living our lives in purposeful ways.

HOLT: Well, let me ask the Reverend Hawke about moving on from this. Because as we said, it wasn't just this horrible tragedy. You had to hear the details again and again in a second trial. So what happens now? How do you, as a family, move on from here?

Rev. HAWKE: Well, we have always been a people of faith and we feel that God was with our children when they were put to death and that enabled and helped them through that terrible experience, and I believe that God will continue to be with us and give us the strength to go on in life and be the kind of people

that their lives represented: always reaching out, always loving, always having compassion and care. And that was the tragedy of the thing. These were three wonderful women who had so much to give to the world and now that's been taken away.

HOLT: Well, we admire your strength and I want to tell you how much we appreciate you coming on and sharing your thoughts and being with us this morning.

Rev. HAWKE: Thank you.

Ms. HAWKE: Thank you.