— Four and a half years ago, the sound of sirens and the odor of smoke roused Krista Repko, a 16-year-old resident of Sorghum Mill Drive, from her bed.
Repko immediately logged onto her computer and began messaging friends, detailing for them the hellish fire burning just 10 houses away.
"There was a large cloud of smoke," the now 20-year-old Repko said. "Then I remember finding out they were dead. We were all in disbelief."
For the community, which bore witness to the slaying of three Petit family members during a home invasion in 2007, the trial of Joshua Komisarjevsky, 31, brought back harrowing memories.
Komisarjevsky, who was sentenced to death Friday, was convicted in October on all 17 charges that resulted from the deaths of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, and her daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11. Dr. William Petit was beaten, but survived.
Komisarjevsky's accomplice, Steven Hayes, was convicted last year on 16 of the 17 counts, and is already on death row.
"I think [Komisarjevsky] got what he deserved," said Repko, who added that she believes in the death penalty.
Walking her dog around the familiar loop of Hotchkiss Ridge Saturday afternoon, Repko said she didn't know the Petit family personally but knew Hayley and Michaela had been very close with other young people in the neighborhood and heard talk about them often.
Repko, who lives just a few houses down from where the triple-murder took place, walks by the property often. There is a garden there now, a constant reminder to her of the true evil of the men responsible.
"I think they both should be put to death," she said.
Few people interviewed in town on Saturday disagreed with Repko, expressing relief less than 24 hours after a jury of seven women and five men announced their decision to have Komisarjevsky executed by lethal injection.
John Talbot, a Middletown father of three, said he felt "petrified" upon hearing about the deaths of the three Petit women.
"You don't know who's pounding on your door or following you," Talbot said. "It's unsettling. You just never know."
Standing in a heavy wool coat, hands in his pockets, Talbot watched his three young sons swinging and climbing on a playground off South Main Street in Cheshire. The playground, next to the indoor community pool and adjacent to the local skate park, also sits across the street from Cheshire High School.
"Justice will never be served," Talbot said. "What those guys did was subhuman. It was barbaric. They deserve what they got."
Branford resident Laura Kozma, who was the jury forewoman during Komisarjevsky's trial, said Saturday that no matter which way you look at the verdict, there are no winners.
"I think we made our decision based purely on the evidence provided," she said. "But we're people. We knew this family went through incredible hardship. At the same time, you have to put your personal feelings aside and base your decision on what is presented as evidence."
Kozma said the difficulty of putting those feelings aside did not compare with the emotional or psychological pressure of deciding a man's fate.
"To be part of making such a huge decisions concerning guilt or innocence, life or death — it's not something someone can walk away from and not feel affected by," Kozma said. "It's such a huge and momentous decision and process to go through.
"I don't think it's something I'll ever completely leave behind," she continued. "It's just such a tragedy for all the people involved. There were no winners."
On the edge of the Petits' property at 300 Sorghum Mill Drive sit potted shrubs that flank the place where a driveway would be. In the garden, flowers shriveled in the balmy December weather sit among plaster handprints and a cement plaque etched with the words "Three Angels."
Courant staff writer Kim Velsey contributed to this report.