As of September 11, 2009 this letter
has not been published
It has been more than 2 years since the deadly home invasion that took
the lives of all but one member of the Petit family that lived in
Cheshire. While not much has happened to the suspects, much is
changing for the suspects. By stalling the trials, the defense
lawyers seem to be holding out for a different culture and getting it.
At one time, certain types of theft related crimes seemed to have a
code of conduct. Many authorities told the general public to
cooperate when confronted with any type of threat. The assumption
of the culture of cooperation was that compliance would lead to a quick
and peaceful resolution to the situation. For instance public service
ads told drivers to simply give up the keys when car-jacked. In
short, meet the demands and avoid getting beat up.
Those who refused to cooperate were held partially responsible for any
escalation of violence that may have occurred. For instance, if a
victim of a car jacking was physically assaulted, most people would
think the person was an idiot for not giving up the keys faster.
Unfortunately today, that code of conduct is not guaranteed.
People who immediately "give up the keys" may be harmed anyway.
Jennifer Petit's actions demonstrated that she believed that
cooperation would more quickly bring about an end to her family's
situation. Looking back today many people feel that she could
have done more. Had she done more at that time, that culture of
compliance would have held her responsible for the negative
How quickly we forget.
About 20 years ago, what appeared to be a similar crime happened in
Boston MA. The wife, who was also an expectant mother, was
fatally shot and the husband was seriously injured. Charles
Stewart had picked the perfect villain to frame and he was almost
untouchable as the surviving victim. Even those who had to follow
police procedure did not want to even think that he was the mastermind
behind the crime. Fast forward to 2007 and the surviving
victim, William Petit was, for a brief time, a suspect.
Reading many of the blogs, some readers are holding the Petits
semi-responsible for the tragic outcome for NOT doing something. The
term "home Invasion" does not send chills up our spines anymore. People
are expected to lock their houses and keep their alarm systems
constantly armed. If Joshua and Steve really came in though an
unlocked door, our current culture may look more negatively upon
William Petit for not locking the door than Joshua’s and Steve’s action
of walking through it!
Joshua and Steve are going to have a life in prison while Jennifer,
Haley and Micheala will not at the cemetery. Joshua may have a chance
to see his daughter grow up and may even know his grandchildren,
William Petit will not. Joshua and Steve may be allowed conjugal
visits, a pleasure of life that just does not happen at a cemetery.
Also there is talk about “replacing” he Death Penalty with Life With
Out Parole. Today one only has to look as far as California as to
see how effective it may be here in CT in 40 years. Susan Atkins, one
of the members of the Manson Family held responsible for the brutal
murder of Sharon Tate, has cancer and is seeking a “compassionate
release” . Many people seem more concerned for the Susan Atkins
of today than for what happened to Sharon Tate 40 years ago.
This is why I support the death penalty. Some may argue that the
death penalty takes us down a slippery slope, but I feel as long as a
society has laws and sticks with them, we as a society will not slide
down that slope. On the other side of the mountain is the other
slippery slope of leniency which leads to anarchy. The end of the road
is coming, we need to choose a slope or we will find ourselves on the
slippery slope of indecision.
While some may feel that the death penalty is about revenge, I see it
as a form of justice that brings some closure to the victims and their
loved ones. Once an offender has been executed, there are no more
appeals which force victims to relive the crime. The sentence, like the
crime, can not be undone.
In 40 years will I, as an old man, be arguing with my college age
grandchildren about the then current fate of Joshua and Steve? To my
grandchildren the old men that Joshua and Steve have become will be
their reality and Jennifer, Haley and Micheala will be only my
memories. In 40 years a “life” sentence could be defined to a
“magic number” consisting of the number of years the offender has
served added to the offender’s age. With a magic number of 100,
Joshua’s “life” sentence could be “fully served” when he is 63.
To me, William Petit seems like a person who is more interested in his
career than politics, but seems to feel his involvement is now
necessary as to get justice for him and his family. As the CT
legislature continues to ignore the citizens, voters may rally with and
find hope in people like William Petit. If he so chose, William Petit
could take a political office running on a “Law & Order”
What Joshua and Steve did to the Petit family did not require a new
law, as they broke many laws existing at that time. The new “home
invasion” laws are not going to make much of a difference outside of
the court rooms if such is not enforced or sentences are not carried
By enforcing the laws already on the books, it is possible to reduce
prison overcrowding, create job opportunities for legal citizens
and reduce the deficit. If the voters feel the same way in 2010 as many
do now, someone like Larry the cable Guy with his “get ‘er done” motto
may have a chance at taking the governor’s office and making a
difference. A pro-wrestler became the governor of Minnesota, so someone
like Larry may have a chance here in CT.