Two persons charged in a gruesome home invasion, resulting in the death of a mother and her two daughters in Connecticut, in US, are facing death penalty, prosecutors said.
The father of the girls was also badly battered,though he has survived.
State Attorney Michael Dearington has announced additional charges against Steven Hays, 44, and Joshua Komisarjevsky, 26, on Thursday, including murder, which carries a sentence of either life without parole or execution by injection.
The suspects were initially charged with aggravated sexual assault, burglary and arson.
Hays and Komisarjevsky are accused of killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, and her daughters Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11. Hawke-Petit's husband, Dr. William Petit Jr., was assaulted and thrown into the basement of the home during the attack.
William Petit, president of the Hartford County Medical Association, is a specialist in diabetes and endocrinology and is the medical director of the Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate at The Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain.
Jennifer Hawke Petit was a nurse and co-director of the health center at Cheshire Academy, a private boarding school.
The state's chief medical examiner ruled all three deaths were homicides.
The incident began at about 3 a.m. Monday, when, police said, Hays and Komisarjevsky forced their way into the Petit home.
About six hours later, the intruders drove one of the female family members -- reportedly Jennifer Hawke-Petit -- to a Bank of America branch to withdraw money, police said.
The woman was "able to relay to the bank teller that ... the family was being held captive. The bank teller notified the police department," said Cheshire police Lt. Jay Markella.
By the time police arrived, the house was on fire. Authorities say it was an apparent attempt by the suspects to cover their tracks.
William Petit, who sustained serious head injuries, managed to get up the stairs from the basement and outside the burning home.
Autopsies revealed that Hawke-Petit was strangled and the two girls died of smoke inhalation.
The suspects reportedly noticed Hawke-Petit and one of her daughters Sunday at a local store and followed them home.
"They were attracted to the car," Glen Petit, the brother of Dr. William Petit, told The Associated Press. "They liked the car, followed her home, thought she lived in a nice house."
Hays is charged with six counts of capital felony; six counts of kidnapping; and one count each of burglary in the first degree, robbery in the first degree, larceny in the first degree, aggravated sexual assault in the first degree, arson in the first degree, conspiracy to commit arson in the first degree, risk of injury to a minor and assault in the first degree.
Komisarjevsky faces the same charges with an additional count of risk of injury to a minor.
Both are being held by the Connecticut Department of Correction on $15 million bail and are next scheduled to appear August 7 in New Haven District Superior Court.
Hayes and Komisarjevsky each have more than 20 prior burglaries on their records. At the time of the killings, both were free on parole after serving prison time for burglary convictions in 2003, Bail Commissioner Garcia Harris said. They spent time last year in the same halfway house in Hartford before being paroled in the spring.
A halfway house is a drug rehabilitation or sex offender centre. At the centre convicted felons let out on day parole are allowed to move more freely than in a prison are still monitored by staff and/or law enforcement.
Prison officials said they reported each week to their parole officers and were employed full-time, a requirement of their release.
While both men have long criminal records, Robert Farr, chairman of the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Parole, said there was nothing to show that they were capable of such violent crimes.
``They were obviously individuals that had long and extensive records, but they weren't violent records,'' Farr said.
Komisarjevsky comes from a prominent Connecticut family. His grandfather was Theodore Komisarjevsky, a renowned Russian theater director and designer and his grandmother was Ernestine Stodelle, a former dancer, dance critic, author and studio director.
The Monday attack stunned Cheshire, an upper-middle class community of 29,000 just east of Waterbury and about 15 miles north of New Haven.