NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Jurors got their first look today at graphic photos of the victims in a gruesome home invasion that left a woman and her two daughters dead.
Prosecutors showed the photos in the trial of Joshua Komisarjevsky, who faces a possible death sentence if convicted of the July 2007 attack. His co-defendant, Steven Hayes, was sentenced to death last year.
Most of the jurors gazed downward after seeing the photos. A few appeared close to tears, and one man gripped his face.
During his trial, Hayes stared ahead and avoided eye contact with jurors. Komisarjevsky, however, looked at the jurors as they viewed the photos. One juror, a woman, stared back at him.
Authorities say the two paroled burglars broke into the Cheshire home, beat Dr. William Petit and killed his wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, and their daughters, 11-year-old Michaela and 17-year-old Hayley.
Hayes was convicted of raping and strangling Hawke-Petit. The girls were tied up and died of smoke inhalation after the house was doused in gasoline and set on fire.
Jurors were shown the photos after firefighters and a police lieutenant testified about their grim discovery in the house.
Michaela was found on her bed with her hands tied over her head and her lower body hanging off the bed. Hayley was found at the top of the stairs. Hawke-Petit was in a family room.
Police and firefighters described an intense fire with thick black smoke. "Couldn't see your hands in front of your face it was that black," said Timothy Wysoczanski, a volunteer firefighter.
Police Capt. Robert Vignola said authorities initially thought there might be a third suspect, but that turned out to be a police officer who was wearing black and had taken off his uniform shirt. Under cross-examination, he denied that the mistake delayed firefighters from entering the house.