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September 20th, 2011
12:19 PM ET

Trial begins for second Connecticut home invasion defendant

A second defendant went on trial Monday in connection with a brutal 2007 Connecticu thome invasion that left a woman and her two daughters dead.

Joshua Komisarjevsky, 31, faces 17 charges in the incident, including three counts of murder, four counts of kidnapping, burglary, arson and assault.

Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters - 17-year-old Hayley Petit and 11-year-old Michaela Petit - died in the July 23, 2007, invasion of their Cheshire, Connecticut, home.

Steven Hayes, the first defendant to stand trial, was sentenced to die in December 2010 after a jury convicted him on 16 of the 17 charges.

Prosecutors allege that Hayes and Komisarjevsky went into the Petit home, beat and tied up Dr. William Petit, raped and strangled his wife, molested one of their daughters and set the house on fire before attempting to flee.
The two daughters, who were both tied to their beds, died of smoke inhalation. William Petit managed to escape.

Before assaulting and killing Hawke-Petit, Hayes forced her to go to a bank and withdraw $15,000 from an account after finding evidence the account held between $20,000 and $30,000, authorities said.

Prosecutors allege that Hayes and Komisarjevsky went into the Petit home, beat and tied up Dr. William Petit, raped and strangled his wife, molested one of their daughters and set the house on fire before attempting to flee.

While he didn't present a comprehensive statement, New Haven State's Attorney Michael Dearington briefly spoke to jurors, explaining that prosecutors believe the jury will be able to listen to the evidence and render a decision. Under the law, Dearington said, Komisarjevsky is charged both as a principal and an accessory.

Komisarjevsky's defense attorney, Walter Bansley, told jurors that his client never intended to kill anyone, that his sole purpose in breaking into the Petit home was to steal.

Bansley said Komisarjevsky did not have a weapon. He told jurors that in order to convict Komisarjevsky of capital murder, they must determine he intended to kill someone.

It was Hayes, Bansley said, who raped and strangled Jennifer Hawke-Petit, poured the gasoline and lit the match. Komisarjevsky was a willing participant in the break-in and theft, but not the murders, according to Bansley, who recounted mounting dissension between Hayes and Komisarjevsky as the home invasion progressed through that morning.

Hayes felt the Petits needed to be killed, Bansley claimed, but Komisarjevsky refused to kill anyone.

CNN’s Randi Kaye digs into the tragic events of the home invasion for CNN Presents:  “Pure Evil: The killings in Connecticut.”

soundoff (One Response)
  1. Gîtes dans le Var

    Thank goodness some bloggers can still write. My thanks for this article.

    October 23, 2011 at 3:23 pm |