HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Authorities responding to a 2007 home invasion that left a woman and her two daughters dead in Connecticut told a hostage negotiator not to report to the scene and had doubts the Petit family was in danger, according to newly released police recordings.
The recordings of dispatch communications and phone calls to the Cheshire police department were posted online by The Hartford Courant, which reported this week that it acquired the audio from law enforcement sources it did not name.
Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, Hayley and Michaela, ages 17 and 11, were killed in the attack on July 23, 2007. Hawke-Petit's husband, Dr. William Petit, was beaten but survived. The headline-grabbing case was shocking in its brutality: Hawke-Petit was raped and strangled after being ordered to withdraw money from a bank account, her younger daughter was sexually assaulted and both girls were tied to their beds and killed when the house was doused with gasoline and set on fire.
The two killers, Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes, were convicted and sent to death row.
One of Komisarjevsky's trial lawyers, Walter Bansley III, said he had never heard the recordings before and told the Courant he may seek a new trial because the audio was key evidence that should have been given to the defense. But New Haven State's Attorney Michael Dearington said records in his office show the recordings were given to defense lawyers in September 2007.
Cheshire officials have declined to comment about the emergency response to the home invasion.
Hawke-Petit's sister and parents have been critical of the police response. In an HBO documentary that aired Monday, they said police haven't responded to their repeated requests for information.
In one of the recordings, police Lt. James Fasano tells a dispatcher that he isn't sure about the accuracy of Hawke-Petit's comments to a bank teller about her daughters being held hostage at their home. Fasano said he wasn't sure if Hawke-Petit was just saying her daughters were in danger in order to get money out of an account in her husband's name.
In another recording, town hostage negotiator Eric Granoth called in to ask a dispatcher if he was needed at the scene. The dispatcher, after conferring with the deputy police chief, told Granoth he wasn't needed.