Entries in Dr. Petit (2)


Second Petit Murder Trial Begins in Connecticut

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- It has been called the most horrific crime in Connecticut's history.  A 2007 home invasion escalated into a triple homicide leaving a mother and her two daughters dead and a father badly beaten and emotionally scarred.

Four years later, the final chapter in this tragic story is about to unfold in a New Haven courtroom as the death penalty trial of 31-year-old Joshua Komisarjevsky, one of two men charged for the crimes that night, gets underway with opening statements Monday.

Komisarjevsky faces 17 charges ranging from murder to abduction and assault.  The grisly details of the story are widely known from court documents and testimony in the trial of Komisarjevsky's alleged accomplice Steven Hayes.

On July 23, 2007, for seven hours, Dr. William Petit, his wife Jennifer Hawke-Petit and their daughters Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, were held hostage.  The daughters were tied to their beds and one of them was allegedly sexually assaulted by Komisarjevsky.

Hawke-Petit was driven to a bank at gun point, told to withdraw money and taken back to her house, where she was raped and then strangled.  The house was doused with gasoline and set on fire.  Hayley, Michaela and their mother died, the girls tied to their gasoline splashed beds.

Dr. Petit managed to escape and crawl to a neighbor's house, beaten and bloodied, to call for help.

Komisarjevsky and Hayes were arrested a block away from the Petit family home.  Both men had lengthy criminal records.  Hayes and Komisarjevsky tried to plead guilty to the crimes in exchange for a life sentence, but prosecutors refused.

Hayes stood trial for his role in the crimes last year.  In court, Hayes seemed subdued.  It took the jury just hours to find him guilty.  When he was allowed to address the court, Hayes said "death would be a welcome relief."  He was sentenced to be executed and is now on death row.

Hayes' trial mesmerized Connecticut and much of the country with reporters lining up each day to enter the courtroom, and sending out minute-by-minute accounts of the testimony over Twitter.  When it was over, Dr. Petit even sat down for an interview with Oprah, an indication of just how much the public at large was following this case.

Despite the high stakes nature of the death penalty trial, Hayes' attorney Thomas Ullmann adopted a courtly rather than a confrontational manner in court.  And he always maintained a respectful demeanor towards Dr. Petit and his relatives.

But the trial of Joshua Komisarjevsky promises to be different.  Komisarjevsky's three court-appointed attorneys, Walter Bansley III, Jeremiah Donovan and Todd Bussert have adopted a combative, even confrontational style with Dr. Petit and his family.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Petit Murderer Caught Off Guard by Brutality, Psychiatrist Testifies

Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW HAVEN, Connecticut) -- Steven Hayes didn't know ahead of the time that a Connecticut home invasion that resulted in the death of a mother and her two daughters would involve rape, murder and a fire to destroy evidence, according to a psychiatrist who testified Thursday in the sentencing phase of the convicted murderer's trial.

Dr. Eric Goldsmith told the jury Thursday it was Hayes' co-defendant, Joshua Komisarjevsky, who came up with the idea to rob a house in well-to-do Cheshire, because he'd done it before and that the gruesome turn of events in July 2007 wasn't in the original plan.

And when Hayes worried about the DNA evidence that would be left at the scene, Komisarjevsky allegedly shot back, "Fire kills everything," Goldsmith testified.

Hayes' defense has sought from the beginning of the trial to portray Komisarjevsky as the ringleader and Hayes as a hapless follower, in an attempt to spare him the death penalty. Closing arguments are expected Friday.

Hayes was convicted earlier this month of 16 felony counts related to the deaths of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11.

Komisarjevsky, Goldsmith testified, told Hayes during the invasion that he'd already gotten DNA on one of the girls so they'd have to kill them both and urged Hayes to get his hands dirty.

Goldsmith's testimony Thursday also revealed Hayes had sex with Hawke-Petit after he strangled her and that Komisarjevsky told Hayes that Dr. William Petit -- the sole survivor of the home invasion -- had died. Petit had been bound and badly beaten, but managed to escape to a neighbor's house and call for help.

The jury also heard an excerpt from a note Hayes wrote. It was signed "Edicius," or "suicide" written backward.

In the note, Hayes wrote he wanted to die and though he said was not a monster like his co-defendant, he was a coward.

Goldsmith said Hayes has also been having nightmares of his young son burning.

The psychiatrist said while Komisarjevsky may be a psychopath, Hayes was not. The doctor said he'd diagnosed Hayes as having adjustment disorder and anti-social personality disorder.

Defense witnesses have accounted for the vast majority of the jury's time in the sentencing phase, now in its second week. The prosecution rested the first day after calling a clerk to read a list of Hayes' convictions.

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