A Christian man has testified on behalf of a Connecticut man who is being sentenced for killing a woman and her two daughters by tying them up, drenching them in gasoline and leaving them in a burning house.
With an impassioned plea, Christian music tour leader Mark Middlebrooks stood before a jury in New Haven on Tuesday saying convicted murder Joshua Komisarjevsky, who worked with him as lighting technician, was an "outstanding" team member who is remorseful and will someday have to explain his actions to his own daughter.
The Washington Post reports that Komisarjevsky currently faces life in prison or the death penalty. Continentals, Middlebrook’s tour group, traveled the United States and Western Europe in 1997 when Komisarjevsky was 17 years old. Middlebrook wants to spare the convicted murdered his life.
"I know who he is beneath all the circumstances," Middlebrooks said, adding that Komisarjevsky's life has value and he has a responsibility to seek redemption.
Middlebrook predicts that Komisarjevsky's 9-year-old daughter will someday ask her father, "What the hell were you thinking?" and he worked this argument into his speech to the jury in the sentencing phase of Komisarjevsky's case.
Komisarjevsky was convicted of killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters in their Cheshire home in 2007.
Middlebrook told the jury, "I'm here to advocate for Josh's life."
During his speech, he referenced a time on the tour when the group visited a burn center in Trinidad and came across a girl who was brutally burned. According to the Post, he told the jury that Komisarjevsky demonstrated extreme empathy in that moment.
Prosecutor Gary Nicholson counteracted Middlebrook's fervent courtroom statement with the horrendous details of Komisarjevsky's crimes. The slain woman was tied up for eight hours and her two daughters died of smoke inhalation.
Nicholsan asked Middlebrook if the nature of Komisarjevsky's conviction affected him.
Red-faced, Middlebook was nearly shouting when he replied, "It does have an effect on me."
Middlebook expressed his resentment toward the way the case has affected his life. However, he recalls that Komisarjevsky revealed very humanistic qualities on their tour together, noting that Komisarjevsky was very good with Mididlebook's 3-year-old daughter during the two three-month tours, often taking care of her when Middlebrook was busy backstage.
Nicholson then reminded the jury of Komisarjevsky's previous arrests on his record that included burning down a vacant garage before the tour began.
According to The Washington Post, Middlebrook said he felt "compelled and burdened" to accept him for the tour despite Komisarjevsky's legal trouble. He said he has never regretted his decision.