The brutal crime destroyed a family and left a Connecticut jury in tears. And soon its hellish details will be heard in court again, this time for the trial of Joshua Komisarjevsky, the second man accused of killing a Connecticut woman and her two teenage daughters in a horrific 2007 home invasion.
Komisarjevsky, 30, has been charged with killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, in their suburban home in Cheshire, Conn., in July 2007. Last year, Steven Hayes, 47, was convicted in the killings and sentenced to death after an emotionally charged trial. Jurors often cried as the home invasion’s sole survivor, Dr. William Petit, told the court how he was beaten bloody with a baseball bat in the basement of his own home as his wife and two daughters were assaulted and then killed upstairs.
The process of choosing 12 jurors, six alternates and three backup alternates is expected to take months. Opening arguments are not set to begin until Sept. 19.
Like Hayes, Komisarjevsky will stand trial in New Haven, Conn., in the courtroom of Connecticut Superior Court Judge Jon Blue. Komisarjevsky’s defense attorneys had filed a motion to move the trial elsewhere, claiming that the “unprecedented, prejudicial publicity surrounding the case” made it impossible for him to receive a fair trial in New Haven, according to court documents.
That motion was denied along with a host of other requests, such as attempting to have Blue removed from the case and asking the court to ban reporters from tweeting in the courtroom because the tweets, it was argued, would be prejudicial against Komisarjevsky.
Earlier this month, defense attorney Jeremiah Donovan lost a bid to ban Petit family members and friends, whom he referred to as the “the Petit posse,” from wearing memorial pins in the courtroom, according to the Yale Daily News.
On Friday, Komisarjevsky asked for a plea deal in which he would agree to serve life in prison instead of the death penalty, but a similar request by Hayes was denied last year.
The brutality and seemingly random nature of the murders shocked the country.
On July 23, 2007, prosecutors say, Komisarjevsky and Hayes broke into the Petits’ Cheshire home, beat Dr. Petit unconscious and forced Jennifer Hawke-Petit to go to a local bank and withdraw thousands of dollars at gunpoint. The same night, prosecutors charge, Hayes raped and strangled Hawke-Petit before the two men bound Hayley and Michaela to their beds and lit the house on fire, leaving the girls to die of smoke inhalation.
Authorities testified at the Hayes trial that Michaela had also been raped. Dr. Petit eventually escaped and made it to the home of a neighbor, who called the police.
Komisarjevsky’s attorneys are expected to argue that Hayes was the main instigator of the violence. Hayes’ attorneys argued last summer that the opposite was true. If Komisarjevsky is convicted, he will likely face the death penalty.