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.