published Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Judge denies mistrial in Connecticut home invasion case

  • photo
    This July 2007 police photo released by the Connecticut Judicial Branch as evidence presented Tuesday Sept. 27, 2011 in the Joshua Komisarjevsky trial in New Haven, Conn., Superior Court, shows a fire-damaged portion of the Petit home in Cheshire, Conn., where three family members were killed during a home invasion July 23, 2007. (AP Photo/Connecticut Judicial Branch)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Connecticut judge told attorneys for a man charged with a brutal home invasion that he would not declare a mistrial over the fact that relatives of the three people killed walked out en masse before testimony about an autopsy.

The Hartford Courant reported that Jeremiah Donovan, an attorney for Joshua Komisarjevsky, sought the mistrial today, one day after the relatives walked out of court. Donovan said the relatives’ departure was prejudicial to his client.

The family members were aware that the state’s chief medical examiner was going to provide disturbing testimony about the deaths of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, ages 17 and 11, Donovan said. Jurors also watched as family members left, the attorney said.

Donovan asked the judge to prohibit Petit family members from pulling “any stunts like that again.”

Judge Jon Blue said trial spectators are free to come and go.

Authorities say Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes broke into the family’s home in Cheshire in July 2007, beat Dr. William Petit with a bat and tied him and his family up. Hayes, who is on death row, was convicted last year of strangling Hawke-Petit and killing the girls, who died of smoke inhalation after the house was doused in gas and set on fire.

Dr. Susan Williams, a state medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Hawke-Petit, testified today that she was already dead by the time the fire started in the home. Williams said Hawke-Petit, 48, was strangled. Her larynx was fractured in two places, and she was alive after the first fracture, Williams said.

Information from: The Hartford Courant,

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joepulitzer said...


September 29, 2011 at 6:27 p.m.
dude_abides said...

“any stunts like that again.” ? I hope God pulls a cancer stunt in his brain...sounds like he already has.

September 29, 2011 at 7:10 p.m.
chris13 said...

Lawyers who defend accused murderers with such incompassionate zeal are only guilty of doing their jobs... The role of defense lawyer is to protect their client's interests and right to a fair trial.

While this case is beyond horrible and this particular defendant's guilt is not in question, all accused persons have the right to due process and counsel. I applaud this attorney for performing his duties in a very difficult case, especially considering the fact that he was APPOINTED by the court. I can only assume that he would probably prefer not to be representing this sick SOB; and by doing so, he is fulfilling his legal responsibility to the court.

September 30, 2011 at 12:25 a.m.
holdout said...

All the same Chris there is a right way and a wrong way to do so. He should have asked for a sidebar and then stated his request to the judge where the jury could not hear it. That would have been proper. Trying to use the grief of a family to influence a jury is improper and immoral and unnecessary.

September 30, 2011 at 6:58 a.m.
chris13 said...

@ Holdout

A motion for mistrial is usually not discussed in front of a jury and in this article it does not say if the jury was present or not during this particular exchange between the defense and judge. It does however state the motion was made the day after the family left the courtroom. He was not trying to use the family's grief to influence the jury... The defendant's attorney was arguing for the mistrial because the jury DID observe the family's grief and THAT could influence them. Like I said before... the attorney was protecting his client's right to a fair trial and that is his proper and moral obligation as the defendant's advocate.

As a side note: my initial post was in response to a previous comment concerning the lawyer's supposed guilt for defending the accused with 'incompassionate zeal'...

September 30, 2011 at 3:18 p.m.
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