Update at 6:15 p.m. on Dec. 9
Dr. William Petit, with a newly grown beard on his face, stood outside New Haven Superior Court Friday evening to talk about his reaction to the death penalty sentence handed down that afternoon for triple-murder defendant Joshua Komisarjevsky.
"We'd really like to thank the jury for their really difficult decision," the Courant quoted Petit. We are satisfied that the defendant has been judged to be the murderer, rapist…that he is."
The jury took about 20 hours to decide on the death penalty for Komisarjevsky in the deaths of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, and her two daughters, Hayley, 17 and Michaela, 11.
Komisarjevsky had been found guilty in October of all 17 counts against him.
Update at 4:25 p.m. on Dec. 9
Jurors sentenced Joshua Komisarjevsky to death on Friday after five days of weighing his fate.
Dr. William Petit, the lone survivor of the 2007 attack, was sitting in the courtroom's front row where he has been throughout the grisly trial. He displayed no emotion other than to put his arm around his sister as the killer of his wife and two daughters repeatedly heard the sentence of death for each of their murders.
Update at 6:05 p.m. on Dec. 8
After four days of 17 hours of deliberations, jurors have not yet reached a decision on whether Joshua Komisarjevsky should die for his role in a home invasion that ended with three people dead.
According to Reuters, the jurors will meet again on Friday.
Update at 5:10 p.m. on Dec. 7
Day three of deliberations ended with no decision on whether Joshua Komisarjevsky lives or dies, but the day was punctuated when jurors passed a note to judge seeking input on a legal aspect.
The jurors had questions on what constitutes a "minor role" in the death of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and if the jury should take into account just the strangulation or all the events leading up to her death. Steven Hayes, Komisarjevsky's co-defendant, strangled Hawke-Petit during the crime, and is now sitting on death row.
Judge Jon Blue said neither and referred them back to the count.
2nd Day of Deliberation Ends With No Verdict Update at 5:15 p.m. on Dec. 6
Jurors have yet to reach a decision on whether Joshua Komisarjevsky should be sentenced to death for his crimes. According to the Associated Press, deliberations lasted five hours and will continue tomorrow.
Jurors Consider Life or Death for Komisarjevsky Update at 7:45 p.m. on Dec. 5
Jurors began deliberating on whether Joshua Komisarjevsky should be put to death or sentenced to life in prison for his role in a home invasion turned triple murder. No decision was made on the first day, and the closed deliberations continue tomorrow.
Update at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 2
In the final arguments in the sentencing phase of the Joshua Komisarjevsky trial, the convicted murderer was described as damaged by one side and heinous by the other.
According to CNN, defense attorney Walter Bansley said his client "was a damaged young man ... and he remains that way, to this day."
Komisarjevsky was then quoted in a letter to his mother, saying he was sorry "for not being the boy you wanted me to be" and "a loser." Bansley then insisted that his client posed no danger as long as he is in prison, where he does art and studies Latin.
"Josh is not a future danger to anyone, and you really shouldn't consider killing him," Bansley said. "There is no reason to kill him.
Final Arguments Friday in Komisarjevsky Trial. Update at 8:15 p.m. on Dec. 1
A verdict on whether Joshua Komisarjevsky will live or die is nearing, with final arguments in the sentencing phase of his trial on Friday. The Hartford Courants reports that the defense will try to downplay Komisarjevsky's role. Prosecutors will argue otherwise.
Prosecutors will argue that it was Komisarjevsky who masterminded the break-in and killings. They will remind the jurors of the evidence that led them to convict Komisarjevsky on all 17 counts he faced at trial, including that he sexually assaulted 11-year-old Michaela while she was tied to her bed.
Final Arguments this Week in Komisarjevsky. Trial Update at 10:25 p.m. on Nov. 29
Both the defense and prosecution rested Tuesday and final arguments are expected this Friday in the sentencing phase of Joshua Komisarjevsky's trial. He has already been found guilty of all counts, including three charges of murder.
Closing statements are scheduled for Friday and jurors will begin deliberations next week, prosecutor Michael Dearington said. They will decide whether Komisarjevsky will spend the rest of his life in prison or be executed.
Daughter Testifies Despite Komisarjevsky's Objection Update at 8:35 p.m. on Nov. 23
The taped testimony of the nine-year-old daughter of Joshua Komisarjevsky was shown in court on Wednesday. The girl described how her father used to play with her, but her father told the courtroom he didn't want the video shown.
According to ABC News, Komisarjevsky read the following prepared statement in an effort to not have the video played to jurors:
"Among many other considerations, I have carefully come to the overwhelming opinion that I am not at all comfortable putting my daughter in a position wherein she may feel that she has to explain or justify herself to anyone who perceives her statements to somehow help one of the most hated people in America," Komisarjevsky said.
"She's 9 years old. Had this interview been her decision to make, and she was old enough to understand that decision, that would be one thing. However, that is not the case in this situation. The decision has been made for her," he said.
Komisarjevsky Felt Suicidal After Murders Update at 4:40 p.m. on Nov. 22
After the shocking home invasion that left three people dead, convicted murderer Joshua Komisarjevsky felt suicidal for what he did.
Dr. Richard Dudley Jr. testified that Joshua Komisarjevsky told him the situation became increasingly out of control but he didn't know what to do.
"He explained that the victims certainly didn't have to die," Dudley said. "He talked about how bad he felt about that. And he talked about how at the end of it all how suicidal he was."
Daughter's Testimony to be Shown Wednesday Update at 5:15 p.m. on Nov. 21
After much debate about whether or not Joshua Komisarjevsky's nine-year-old daughter should testify, it was announced today that her taped interview will be shown this Wednesday.
Raymond Hassett, an attorney for the state-appointed guardian for Komisarjevsky's daughter, said the hour-long tape will be shown in court in on Wednesday and he hopes the girl remains "unaffected by the whole situation."
Update at 6:05 p.m. on Nov. 17
The video of Joshua Komisarjevsky's nine-year-old daughter testifying will be played in court, but with a number of conditions and restrictions.
[Judge Jon] C. Blue said he would only allow jurors, lawyers and reporters to see the video. It's not clear when the video, which doesn't exist yet, will be shown.
Under Blue's order, the video will be played in open court, but only the jury will be able to see it. The audience would be able only to listen to it. Credentialed members of the media will be allowed to watch the video at some later point when court is not in session, possibly on the same day the jury sees it.
As Worker, Komisarjevsky was ‘Trustworthy’ Update at 6:20 p.m. on Nov. 16
Prior to murdering members of the Petit family in 2007, Joshua Komisarjevsky lived in a halfway home after being released from prison. Jaclyn Osden, his case manager, testified on Wednesday about his stay in the home – and his work as a roofer.
Osden testified that Komisarjevsky's 21 urine tests and 21 Breathalyzer tests were all negative for drugs and alcohol.
A report Osden wrote described Komisarjevsky as a "superb employee who was not only hardworking but trustworthy enough to be in charge of his own crew."
Komisarjevsky's Religious Upbringing Detailed in Court. Update at 5:50 p.m. on Nov. 15
The strict religious upbringing of Joshua Komisarjevsky was the focus of the courtroom on Tuesday.
Julie Ingersoll, a professor of religious studies at the University of North Florida, was quoted by the Associated Press for the testimony she gave jurors.
Komisarjevsky at the time called it “the darkness” and believed it was part of him, Ingersoll testified, but he later came to believe it was just a panic attack.
Ingersoll said the family believes that mental illness is really just “irresponsibility” and a spiritual problem that can’t be treated by psychiatrists or psychologists, whom they believe are among outsiders who can’t be trusted.
Update at 4:15 p.m. on Nov. 14
It appears likely that Joshua Komisarjevsky’s 9-year-old daughter will testify to jurors deciding whether the murderer should get the death penalty.
According to the Hartford Courant, a recorded video would be shown to jurors rather than having the girl appear in the courtroom.
Sources said the girl would be "spoken to," probably next week, and that it was unlikely that she would be questioned by attorneys in the case.
The attorney for the girl's guardian, Raymond Hassett, said he would file a motion later Monday to close the courtroom to the public when the jury gets to see the video.
Update at 4:40 p.m. on Nov. 10
Dr. William Petit, the survivor the 2007 home invasion that ended with his wife and two daughters dead, was forced to remove his vest in the courtroom, which displayed the logo of the Connecticut chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Petit’s wife, who was strangled to death, had MS, reported the Republican American.
Judge Jon C. Blue ruled earlier this year that family members and supporters of Petit could wear a small pin with the Petit Family Foundation logo on it. Other insignia or logos have not been allowed. As a matter of routine, Donovan counts the number of pins at the beginging of most court days.
"I've allowed the pins, but don't test me any farther," Blue said, prompting Petit to take off his vest as Blue spoke.
The attorney representing the state said that the wearing of the vest was “not deliberate” or “done with bad intent.”
Update at 5:35 p.m. on Nov. 9
Four days before Joshua Komisarjevsky committed a brutal home invasion and triple murder, a monitoring bracelet was removed from his ankle by his parole officer.
Komisajevsky's parole officer, Abigail Cintron, testified that she placed the ankle bracelet on Komisarjevsky on March 21, when he was released to her from a Hartford halfway house. She removed the bracelet on July 19. His conditions of parole required that he be monitored for only three months.
Komisarjevsky was found guilty of 17 charges in the deaths of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters during a home invasion on July 23, 2007.
Update at 6:25 p.m. on Nov. 8
In an interview with Radar Online, Caroline Mesel, ex-girlfriend of convicted killer Joshua Komisarjevsky, talks about what he was like as a boyfriend – and as a father.
"His daughter was adorable, he loved her to death. He was a great dad," Mesel told RadarOnline.com in an exclusive interview, as she revealed how 31-year-old Komisarjevsky cared for his then five-year-old daughter.
Joshua was granted sole custody of the girl two months before the murders after being embroiled in a bitter custody battle with her mother, Jennifer Norton, who was being treated at a crisis intervention unit.
Mesel was dating Komisarjevsky at the time of the 2007 home invasion and murders. She told the website that she met Steven Hayes, the accomplice in the murders, and that he was “creepy.”
Update at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 7
With Joshua Komisarjevsky facing the death penalty for his role in a triple murder and the sexual assault of a young girl, his psychologist told jurors about a history of sexual abuse he suffered as a child.
Clinical psychologist Leslie Lebowitz testified Monday in New Haven Superior Court that she met with Komisarjevsky more than a dozen times for a psychological evaluation of him. Lebowitz said she concluded Komisarjevsky was sexually abused "not every day, but a lot" [by his adopted brother].
Komisarjevsky's defense says his strictly religious family never got him proper psychological treatment.
However, she said there was no excuse for the crimes Komisarjevsky was convicted of.
Update at 4:10 p.m. on Nov. 3
Prosecutors are fighting a move by the defense that would allow Joshua Komisarjevsky’s nine-year-old daughter to testify as jurors consider whether he should be given the death penalty.
According to ABC News, the defense has filed a subpoena for the daughter to appear, while prosecutors and others have opposed the move.
A number of studies have been done on the effects of testifying in a trial on children. "Criminal court testimony is associated with fear and anxiety for a substantial subset of children," according to a study done in the 1990's at University of California, Davis. "The adversarial, formal, and possibly even hostile court environment during a hearing and especially a trial is a source of a child witnesses' fear and distress."
Update at 4:40 p.m. on Nov. 2
When Joshua Komisarjevsky was a troubled teen in a deeply religious household, he confided in a pastor that he witnessed a demon. Bryce Whiting told jurors the story on Wednesday during the ongoing penalty phase of Komisarjevsky’s trial.
Bryce Whiting testified that Joshua Komisarjevsky was visibly shaken as he described "a dark spiritual being with glowing eyes and menacing in his appearance" by a TV where he had made a pipe bomb. The pastor, who belonged to the same New Hampshire church as Komisarjevsky's family at the time, said he and others led Komisarjevsky in prayers telling the devil to leave as they placed their hands on him.
Update at 5:10 p.m. on Nov. 1
Mark Middlebrooks, a music director who knew the Joshua Komisarjevsky when he was 17 years old, asked jurors to spare the convicted killer’s life on Tuesday.
He said Komisarjevsky was in legal trouble at the time he joined the group, called the Continentals. But Middlebrooks said he felt "compelled and burdened" to accept him for the tour, a decision he never regretted.
"He responded so well to me and my leadership," Middlebrooks said. "We developed a trust. I didn't have to worry about Josh."
The Hartford Courant reported that Middlebrooks said the main reason Komisarjevsky should be spared is because he is a father.
"He has a daughter. He wishes he could change the circumstances for the sake of his daughter, for the family, and for all people adversely affected," Middlebrooks said, adding again that Komisarjevsky should be saved.
Update at 6:04 p.m. on Oct. 31
With Joshua Komisarjevsky facing death row, his family members continued testifying to jurors about the convicted killer’s troubled childhood. On Monday, his adopted sister Naomi Komisarjevsky, shared what it was like growing up with Joshua.
Naomi recalled having fun with her brother and playing games as a child. But according to the Hartford Courant, the childhood darkened when Joshua sexually molested her when she was 12. Things worsened for Joshua as time went on.
"He was angry at God, angry at me, angry at his father, angry at the world, really," Naomi Komisarjevsky said.
She said her brother had thrived in the army but regressed afterward, lapsing into drug use.
According to the U.K. newspaper Daily Mail, his mother, Jude, suspected that Joshua was “up to no good” on the night of the 2007 murders “because he was wearing a hooded sweatshirt he used in the past to commit burglaries.”
The Daily Mail reported that when she heard of the fire and deaths, she thought her son could be involved.
Update at 9:45 p.m. on Oct. 27
Three decades before Joshua Komisarjevsky was a convicted murderer, he was a crying infant just adopted by his new mom. Jude Komisarjevsky retold the first encounter with her son to jurors on Thursday.
Defense attorney Todd Bussert showed Jude Komisarjevsky copies of journal pages she wrote in the months after the adoption. She smiled as she read the entries, including one that said, "Here was the Joshua we always wanted."
The day of the adoption, she recalled, little Joshua cried in her arms but was calm and quiet in the arms of his adopted father.
But trauma, including sexual abuse, made Joshua’s childhood an unhappy one. When the family took in another child, in addition to Joshua’s adopted younger sister, the new brother allegedly molested his siblings. Joshua also allegedly molested his sister. The Hartford Courant reported that Jude barely looked at her son sitting several feet away in the New Haven courtroom.
Update at 5:05 p.m. on Oct. 25
The penalty phase for jurors deciding the fate of convicted murder Joshua Komisarjevsky began today, and it could be weeks before a decision whether to send him to death row is reached.
At the courthouse in New Haven, the judge and the defense told jurors of the weight of their eventual decision. According to CNN:
"This grave and awesome decision will be made by you and you alone," Judge Jon Blue told the jury before giving them preliminary instructions as the trial began.
During an hourlong opening statement, the defense also reminded the jury of the heavy burden they bear.
"By your verdict, you're guaranteeing that Joshua will receive one of the two harshest penalties, life or death," Attorney Jeremiah Donovan said.
Earlier this month, Komisarjevsky was found guilty of all 17 counts from the brutal 2007 Cheshire home invasion that ended with three people dead. His accomplice, Steven Hayes, is on death row already.
Update at 12 p.m. on Oct. 24
The death penalty phase in the brutal Cheshire home invasion murders begins tomorrow. Joshua Komisarjevsky was earlier this month, and his accomplice Steven Hayes has already been sentenced to death.
When the jury returns to the courthouse it will mark the start of what will likely be weeks of testimony, as the defense tries to use Komisarjevsky's troubled childhood to keep him alive.
While the case will be made in court, those living around Cheshire seem to have their minds made up already.
Update at 6:25 p.m. on Oct. 12
Jurors in the Joshua Komisarjevsky trial began deliberations on Wednesday, but no verdict was reached. Six of the 17 charges againt him carry the death penalty. The co-defendant, Steven Hayes, was sentenced to death earlier this year. It took jurors four hours to find Hayes guilty.
Jurors deliberated for about four hours and will resume on Thursday.
A judge denied an effort Wednesday by Komisarjevsky's attorneys to reopen their defense based on letters from co-defendant Steven Hayes claiming he had committed numerous murders in the past. They cited letters from Hayes saying he killed 17 people in the Northeast and committed dozens of drugged date rapes. A prosecutor called the letters unreliable.
Update at 6:20 p.m. on Oct. 11
Two men broke into the Petit home in 2007, leaving behind three bodies and a charred home. During Tuesday’s closing arguments, attorneys on both sides spoke of Joshua Komisarjevsky’s involvement.
According to the defense, it was a situation that escalated due to Steven Hayes, now on death row. The prosecution reminded jurors that it was Komisarjevsky’s decision to invade in the first place. Once inside he sexually assaulted an 11-year-old girl, but denied strangling the mother or setting the house on fire, killing two girls.
[Prosecutor Gary] Nicholson recounted for jurors Tuesday the ways in which Komisarjevsky aided Hayes during the crime, including driving him to the Petit home, helping him beat William Petit and helping him restrain other family members.
"Make no mistake about it, this intrusion into the Petit home was Mr. Komisarjevsky's idea," Nicholson said.
Defense Attorney Jeremiah Donovan said his client never intended for anyone to die and also willingly confessed his crimes to police. According to the Hartford Courant:
Donovan brought up Hayes, saying he was a bully, was desperate for money and had a fetish for women's sneakers and pornography. Donovan said Hayes called Komisarjevsky several times before the home invasion and was eager to get it started.
Donovan described Komisarjevsky as a "damaged lad," who as a boy was sexually abused and burned by cigarettes by a foster child the family took in. Donovan urged jurors to read a report done by a neuropsychologist who evaluated Komisarjevsky, which detailed Komisarjevsky's use of illegal drugs and multiple concussions he suffered.
Update at 7:40 p.m. on Oct. 10
Attorneys in the trial for accused killer Joshua Komisarjevsky will make their closing arguments on Tuesday.
Jurors could begin deliberating Komisarjevsky's fate Tuesday afternoon, once a judge finishes giving them detailed instructions on how to sort through the 17 counts that Komisarjevsky faces in the July 23, 2007, slayings.
Update at 6:50 p.m. on Oct. 6
Three weeks after the start of the trial, the defense rested its case on Thursday. The closing arguments in the triple murder case will be Tuesday. Joshua Komisarjevsky faces the death penalty.
According to the Associated Press the defense further detailed Komisarjevsky’s troubled childhood.
He said he began self-mutilation at age 13, and carved the word “hate” into his arm as a teen.
“I hated everything about my life,” he said. “I had been abused and wanted others to know what it was like to hurt, to lose something. I had so much pain inside and cutting was a way to get at it.”
Update at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 5
Attorneys representing accused murderer Joshua Komisarjevsky began their defense on Wednesday. A neuropsychologist detailed a pattern of sexual and violent abuse Komisarjevsky endured when he was a child that shaped his life.
Dr. Leo Shea testified that Joshua Komisarjevsky told him he was sexually abused from ages 4 to 6 and was burned and tortured. One person Komisarjevsky said had abused him admitted it, Shea said.
Shea also said that Komisarjevsky “extensively abused” crystal methamphetamine.
His childhood history, combined with his recent troubles and a history of concussions, is seen as a possible explanation as to how the home invasion escalated to a triple murder. According to the Hartford Courant:
All of those experiences could have affected certain parts of Komisarjevsky's brain, Shea said. The effects include irritability, an inability to make decisions, problems socially and the lack of ability to think of the needs of other people.
Update at 5:45 p.m. on Oct. 4
With strong evidence and a graphic confession stacked against murder suspect Joshua Komisarjevsky, experts interviewed by ABC News say the defense is taking unusual measures to keep him off death row.
With little to lose, some think the defense might even put Komisarjevsky on the stand. He previously admitted to sexually assaulted 11-year-old Michaela Petit but distanced himself from accomplice Steven Hayes, who has already been sentenced to death. Evidence showing gasoline on Komisarjevky’s clothing indicates he may have had more of a role in the fatal fire than he confessed to.
ABC News reports:
"They are going to try to hang the jury up on whether or not Komisarjevsky was merely an accessory to the murder of a child or if he had a hand in committing the murders himself. If he's only an accessory, the defense will say he ought not to be killed," said Norman Pattis, one of the highest profile criminal defense attorneys in Connecticut.
Update at 6 p.m. on Oct. 3
A supporter of the Petit family reportedly approached a juror on the murder trial to say, “thank you for what you're doing," reported ABC News. The defense asked on Monday for a mistrial, but the judge turned down the request.
Walter C. Bansley, a defense attorney, said that he did not believe Komisarjevsky could get a fair trial. Bansley called the spectator's actions part of a "pattern of intimidation" by Petit supporters.
New evidence in the case was provided by chemist working for the state. Gasoline was found on Joshua Komisarjevky’s clothing. The Associated Press noted that Komisarjevsky previously blamed his accomplice Steven Hayes for starting the fire that killed two girls.
Under cross-examination, Komisarjevsky’s attorneys noted he did not have gas on the gloves he wore and suggested the fuel could have come from construction work Komisarjevsky did.
Update at 5:37 p.m. on Sept. 29
The judge presiding over the Joshua Komisarjevsky trial denied the defense’s attempt at a mistrial on Thursday.
According to the Hartford Courtant, Defense attorney Jeremiah Donovan said that several members of the Petit family leaving the trial before yesterday’s testimony about the sexual assault and death of Michaela Petit was a “stunt” that warranted a mistrial.
"They left en masse," Donovan said, according the Courant. "It seems to be that is so prejudicial to my client."
Superior Court Judge Jon Blue reportedly said trial spectators can leave as they please and rejected the notion of a mistrial.
Update at 5:07 p.m. on Sept. 28
Hours before Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes invaded a Cheshire home, the former texted that he was “chomping at the bit to get started” to his accomplice. On Wednesday, jurors also saw graphic photos Komisarjevsky allegedly took of 11-year-old Michaela Petit, who he sexually assaulted.
According to ABC News, the photos were taken to potentially use as blackmail if Michaela’s mother, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, didn’t do as she was asked.
Six images were of "a young, white girl" [state forensic scientist] John Brunetti testified today. And two of Komisarjevsky himself. In his audio taped confession, Komisarjevsky admitted to molesting the girl and ejaculating on her as she was tied to her bed.
All 18 jurors, including 6 alternates, looked at the pictures as the folder slowly passed from one to the next. Several of the jurors seemed subdued after viewing the images.
After Komisarjevsky sent the text saying he was “chomping at the bit,” Hayes responded “Dude, the horses want to get loose. LOL,” reports the Associated Press.
The Associated Press also reported that a medical examiner found no traces of drugs or alcohol in Komisarjevsky and Hayes.
Update at 10:50 a.m. on Sept. 28
A video containing audio excerpts of Komisarjevsky's confession to police has been added to this article. Some of the scenes described are graphic and disturbing.
Update at 4:50 p.m. on Sept. 27
The jurors weighing the fate of accused murderer Joshua Komisarjevky were shown photos of Hayley Petit’s room. The 17-year-old girl died from smoke inhalation after being bound during the home invasion.
Prosecutor Gary Nicholson took jurors inside the Petit home, to Hayley Petit's bedroom, showing photos on a movie screen of the 17-year-old's burned bed and soot-covered walls. Materials resembling nylon stockings were tied around the bedposts of Hayley's bed.
Investigators took samples of burnt rug near the side of Hayley's bed, State Police Sgt. Karen Gabianelli testified, after a police dog trained to identify accelerants hit on the area.
A dog trained to detect gas found spots believed to be accelerants on the floor of the girls' bedrooms, in the hallway and on a staircase, Connecticut State Police Sgt. Karen Gabianelli said.
Jurors also were shown photos of melted plastic containers that held the gas and the victims' charred clothes. They also saw knit hats with holes cut in them recovered at the scene authorities say the men wore.
Update at 4:25 p.m. on Sept. 26
In the second week of trial against accused murderer Joshua Komisarjevky, a Cheshire detective told jurors that the accused showed “no remorse” about the home invasion that left a mother and her daughters dead.
The witness was Det. Joe Vitello, of the Cheshire Police Department. According to ABC News:
During cross examination, [defense attorney] Walter Bansley asked the detective if Komisarjevsky cried during his confession, and the detective replied, "Never."
When Bansley asked if Komisarjevsky showed any emotion, Vitello said with a tone expressing amazement, "Not once."
The Associated Press said the testimony was damaging to Komisarjevky’s efforts to shift blame to his co-defendant, Steven Hayes. Vitello testified that Komisarjevsky said he may have started the fire that burned down the Petit house.
Detective Joseph Vitello's testimony undercut efforts by Joshua Komisarjevsky's lawyers to blame his co-defendant, Steven Hayes, for pouring the gas. Hayes was convicted last year and is on death row.
Update at 8:15 p.m. on Sept. 23
The first week of trial has wrapped up and will resume on Monday. A number of photos being used as evidence by the prosecution has been added to this article. Also, the transcript of a 9-1-1 call made by the bank manager has been uploaded.
Update at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 22
For the second day in a row, jurors heard the taped confession Joshua Komisarjevsky gave police about his involvement in the death of three people – including two young girls.
Komisarjevsky calls the plan to set the house on fire "unconscionable" and says he closed the bedroom doors "to buy them time."
"I, I, I can't imagine anyone being burned alive," he says. "I got myself in this horrible position, but, you know they did every, they did what they were supposed to do. There was no reason for them to die."
Komisarjevsky’s confession blamed accomplice Steven Hayes, who is on death row.
Hayes started pouring gasoline around the house, including upstairs where the two girls were tied to their beds, Komisarjevsky told the police. He said it didn't occur to him to untie Hayley and Michaela, and he told police that he argued with Hayes that the girls had been compliant and didn't deserve to die.
Komisarjevsly said he closed the girls' bedroom doors "to buy them time."
The two Petit girls died from smoke inhalation.
Update at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 21:
On Wednesday, jurors heard the taped confession Joshua Komisarjevsky gave police after being arrested for his involvement in the grisly triple-murder. The judge ended the recording early after at least one of jurors had a difficult time hearing the unseemly details, according to the Hartford Courant.
Komisarjevsky's confession included details on his sexual assault of 11-year-old Michaela Petit, who perished when the house was set on fire. He also said that the Petit family was targeted because he saw Jennifer Hawke-Petit, who was also killed, driving a nice car.
ABC News reported on what Komisarjevsky did before he and Steven Hayes, who has already been sentenced to death, attacked the Petits.
Komisarjevsky said on the tape he spent the next few hours with his own daughter and put her to bed. After that he met up with Hayes and they hatched a plan to rob the Petit house.
Update at 4:49 p.m. on Sept. 20:
In the second day of trial against a Connecticut man accused of killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, the surviving husband, Dr. William Petit, took the stand to tell his story. Beaten and bloody, Dr. Petit managed to escape his kidnappers and notify police from a neighbor’s house.
He decided to escape. "I didn't think — with a gun, two guys and my feet bound ... I knew I needed help."
With his feet still tied, Petit said he hopped up the basement steps that led to the Bilco door exit. With his heart racing — "it felt like it was going to explode out of my chest" — Petit said he stumbled a few times.
This was the second time Petit gave testimony. Earlier this year he testified against Steven Hayes, who was sentenced to death for his role in the 2007 home invasion.
This trial is for Joshua Komisarjevsky, 31, Hayes' alleged accomplice who is also facing the death penalty. The Courant reported that Petit said the second testimony was even “more nerve-racking” than the first.
Defense attorney Jeremiah Donovan questioned Petit about possible inconsistencies between his testimony and the story he told police. According to the New Haven Register, Donovan said Petit initially told police he saw only one attacker instead of two.
“Maybe your mind is playing tricks on you,” Donovan said.
Donovan also suggested Petit’s memory is affected by hearing other witnesses testify.
“I don’t think I agree with that, sir,” Petit replied.
The Original Story from Sept. 19 Follows:
In a packed courtroom full of media, the second trial in the Cheshire home invasion case began on Monday. Defendant Joshua Komisarjevsky, 31, faces the death penalty for his role in the killing of a woman and her two daughters in 2007.
His co-defendant, Steven Hayes, was last year.
According to the Associated Press, Komisarjevsky's attorney said his client never intended to kill anyone during the home invasion and shifted blame to Hayes. Attorney Walter Bansley said in defense of his client:
"The evidence you are about to hear will shake your confidence in humanity. The deaths that occurred were senseless, unnecessary and tragic."
On the opening day of the trial, Dr. William Petit, the lone survivor of the attack sat in the front row of the courtroom. Nobody was in the space reserved for Komisarjevsky’s family, reports the New Haven Register.
The opening day of witness testimony at New Haven Superior Court brought forth details on how Jennifer Hawke-Petit, Dr. William Petit’s wife, was taken hostage.
Bank teller Kristin Makhzangi testified that Hawke-Petit went to the Bank of America in Cheshire's Maplecroft Plaza to withdraw $15,000 but was unable to provide the necessary ID to the teller. According to the Hartford Courant:
She told the teller she needed the money because two men were holding her family hostage. Makhzangi testified that she then called her bank manager, who approved getting Hawke-Petit the money after hearing about the hostage situation.
Hawke-Petit appeared calm overall, Makhzangi testified, but her hands were shaking.
The teller got approval to give Hawke-Petit the money. The bank manager called 9-1-1. The audio recording and bank surveillance footage were played in court for the jurors.
According to police, Komisarjevsky and Hayes forced their way into the Petit home on July 23, 2007, intending to rob them.
When they found Dr. Petit asleep on the couch, reports show they beat him with a baseball bat, tied him up and restrained him in the basement. Then, police say, the pair tied Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, to their beds, and forced Jennifer Hawke-Petit to make the bank withdrawal.
While Hayes drove Hawke-Petit to the bank, police said Komisarjevsky sexually assaulted Michaela. When Hayes returned, he sexually assaulted and strangled Hawke-Petit, police reports show.
When the two intruders discovered that Dr. Petit had escaped from the basement, according to police, they set fire to the house with gasoline and attempted to escape in the family car. But the pair were unable to elude police, who had been alerted by bank officials and had surrounded the house.
Fred Musante contributed to this report.