Komisarjevsky's Uncle: Killer Is On His Own
When the jury in New Haven County Court announced its verdict in Judge Jon Blue's courtroom Friday, the second of two murderers came face-to-face with the death penalty in the monstrous 2007 Cheshire crime that was so devastating to the Petit and Hawke families and their many friends.
The convicted criminal in the courtroom that day has the same last name as I. He is my nephew. Because of that, many would have expected that I and my family would have circled the wagons to protect him.
We chose not to do that. Our reason is clear: we believe and have taught our children that each individual bears personal responsibility for the decisions he makes, how he behaves and what he permits to continue to go on around him.
That crime was beyond comprehension and there are no excuses. My family lives every day with the knowledge that the sadness borne by the Petit and Hawke families is something that will never go away.
In the face of such sorrow, the Petit and Hawke families have shown extraordinary dignity. While they face an overwhelming emptiness, they never fail to support one another. Beyond that, every day that my wife, Reina, and I were in the courtroom to show our support for them, you could feel their warmth and kindness. We didn't expect it and they certainly didn't have to be so gracious. For that, this family will be eternally grateful.
The horrific acts of the two criminals had the impact of an earthquake. At the epicenter, the damage to the Petit and Hawke families was beyond belief. Extending outward, others felt the tremor. Those close by who knew the families and those far away who only heard about the crime were united in their horror.
As a Komisarjevsky, I grew up in a family where caring about others and doing what is right was the expected path. Our parents never failed to be the example for kindness, intellect, and giving. Each in their own right, they were well-known, respected and beloved. My father, Theodore Komisarjevsky, was a renowned theater director from a famous Russian theatrical family. My mother, Ernestine Stodelle Komisarjevsky Chamberlain, was a leading figure in modern dance, a teacher and a writer. My step-father, John Chamberlain, was a distinguished and admired columnist, author and book critic.
Some of the testimony in court disparaging my parents was outrageous. To have said such things was a desperate act with the obvious goal of creating excuses for inhumane behavior.
As our parents' children, we know the truth. We know the importance of what they taught us about values, character and behavior. The fact is that my step-father John Chamberlain was a quiet, compassionate man who would do anything for anyone and share what he had with those in need. He was kind to everyone, patient and never judgmental. My mother was generous and everything she did was for others throughout her life, even well into her 90s. To say otherwise of either was clearly a lie.
Beyond speaking out within days to condemn the crime and attending the Memorial Service with my wife and two of our children, I have been vocal about this crime ever since. During the sentencing phase of the trial, Reina and I came to court as often as we could. Our goal for being there in person was simple: to shake the hand of Dr. William Petit Jr., the Petit and the Hawke family members, apologize in person, express our sorrow, and be with them in support.
As we sat in court those days, one thing became very clear: the convicted criminal showed no remorse. For us, that too is beyond comprehension.
Speaking on behalf of my family, my sister's family, and John Chamberlain's children, we are united in expressing our sorrow to the Petit and Hawke families and our appreciation for their kindness to us.
Chris Komisarjevsky lives in Atlantic Beach, N.Y.