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Defense Attorney In Petit Murders Makes Another Unsuccessful Attempt At Mistrial

//joshua komisarjevsky mistrial denied

Oct. 3 2011, Published 2:00 p.m. ET

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By Staff

The death penalty trial of triple murderer Joshua Komisarjevsky was delayed once again on Monday morning when his defense attorney appealed to the judge yet again for a mistrial, has learned.

The latest request by Komisarjevsky's legal team came after it was revealed  that a jury member had been approached by a supporter of the Petit family last week, reported the Hartford Courant.

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Superior Court Judge Jon C. Blue of the New Haven, Connecticut court denied the motion but warned spectators not to speak to the jury.

"Supporters from either side should not be approaching the jury," Blue told the court.

While the recent incident was "not catastrophic" and not grounds for a mistrial, explained the judge, he pledged to impose serious penalties if it happened again.

"I'll do what's necessary, including the banishment of those involved from the courtroom for the rest of the trial. I will be quite ruthless about it. So everyone stands on notice here," he said sternly.

Monday marked day ten of the trial of the second suspect in the Petit family murders, and prosecutors are expected to rest their case against 31-year-old Komisarjevsky by the end of the day.

As previously reported, Komisarjevsky is charged with 17 counts including murder, abduction and assault in the triple homicide of a mother and her two children, and the beating of their father.

The grisly case revolves around the seven-hour abduction of Dr. William Petit, his wife Jennifer Hawke-Petit and their daughters Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, who were held hostage in their Cheshire home on July 22, 2007.

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Komisarjevsky's accomplice, Steven Hayes, was tried for his part in the ghastly killings last year and sentenced to death. He remains in prison awaiting execution.

On Friday, jurors heard details about how the fire set that destroyed the house and killed Hayley and Michaela was started near their mother's dead body, reported the Courant.

Jennifer had been raped and strangled before gasoline was doused throughout the house and set alight.

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A state police fire investigator testified on Friday that the arson fire began in the family room near her body, and was burning so fiercely that the flames drove back police and firefighters who tried to enter to room.

Detective Paul Makuc told the court that the evidence did not rule out the possibility that two people could have spread the gasoline, as the trails could have merged together to make one deadly path.

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Defense attorney Walter C. Bansley III's cross examination was aimed at determining whether more than person set the fire, which Makuc replied that he didn't know for sure but explained that a significant pool of gasoline was found near and on Jennifer's body, which was leaned up against an ottoman in the family room.

Hayes admitted to raping and killing the mother-of-three, who was already dead by the time the fire started, and the defense is claiming that he had a stronger motive to burn up the evidence.

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In a taped confession to police after the murders, Komisarjevsky claims it was his accomplice's idea to start the fire after the home invasion went wrong.

"He had first mentioned that we would take the occupants of the home with us in their vehicles and leave the house burning in their wake. I was a bit stunned and perplexed about the whole situation," he told police, in a 2007 recording that was released last week.

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But Hayes later allegedly changed his mind because he was concerned about a trail of DNA. "And then all of a sudden, 'We've got to kill them.'  Kill the family and burn the house down," said his sidekick.

"That was not the plan," explained Komisarjevsky, who allegedly told Hayes: "'I'm not killing anyone, that's not how it's going down. We're here for the money - get in and get out.'"

On Friday, jurors saw gruesome photos of the house after the fire had destroyed it, including the burned remains of the daughters' rooms that were fully consumed by the flames.

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Makuc said that the line of charred carpeting led directly to both Michaela's and Hayley's bedrooms, and that there were additional burn patterns around both girls' beds consistent with a liquid accelerant having been poured and splashed on the floor.

Remnants of rope and stockings were still visible on Hayley's bed where she had been tied up.

The trial continues.


Judge In Petit Family Murder Case Rejects Request For A Mistrial



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