Conn. home invasion defense can't preview photos

AP News
Posted: Feb 24, 2011 10:18 PM
Conn. home invasion defense can't preview photos

Attorneys for a man charged with killing a mother and her two daughters in a home invasion can't show photos of the victims to prospective jurors, a judge ruled Thursday.

Attorneys for Joshua Komisarjevsky said the photos would help evaluate if emotions would affect potential jurors' ability to serve impartially, but Judge Jon Blue said it's inappropriate to show trial evidence during jury selection.

Prosecutors had objected to the defense request, saying that it's unclear what photos will be shown during the trial and that courts routinely deny such requests.

Komisarjevsky is charged with killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters during a home invasion in 2007 in Cheshire, a wealthy New Haven suburb. His co-defendant, Steven Hayes, was convicted last year and was sentenced to death.

Hawke-Petit's husband and the girls' father, Dr. William Petit, was beaten with a baseball bat but survived.

Hayes was convicted of sexually assaulting and strangling Hawke-Petit and killing the girls. Authorities say the children were tied to their beds, with gasoline poured on or around them, before the house was set on fire, leading to their deaths from smoke inhalation.

Komisarjevsky and Hayes have blamed each other for escalating the crime.

Blue also denied a defense request to sequester the jury because of the media attention the case has garnered. Blue said the defense had not proved the media coverage had corrupted the atmosphere and said sequestering the jury would impose a significant burden that would narrow the cross section of potential jurors available to serve.

Blue announced a new schedule that calls for jury selection to start March 16 and the trial to begin Sept. 19.

The plan is to select 21 jurors, including 12 regulars, six alternates and three backups.