The father of a man facing a possible death sentence for killing a woman and her two daughters in a brutal Connecticut home invasion told jurors Wednesday he didn't get his son psychological counseling after the boy was sexually molested by a foster teen he had taken into his house.
Benedict Komisarjevsky testified in the sentencing phase of the trial of his son, Joshua Komisarjevsky, who faces life in prison or the death penalty for his Oct. 13 convictions on capital felony killing, kidnapping, arson and sexual assault charges.
Co-defendant Steven Hayes was sentenced to death last year after he was convicted of raping and strangling Jennifer Hawke-Petit and killing her daughters, 11-year-old Michaela and 17-year-old Hayley, in their Cheshire home in 2007.
The girls died of smoke inhalation after they were tied to their beds and doused with gasoline before the house was set on fire. Joshua Komisarjevsky's convictions include the sexual assault of the younger girl.
The sentencing phase began Tuesday with Komisarjevsky's attorneys saying his ultra-religious family failed to get him proper help.
Benedict Komisarjesky, 63, said the foster teen was mentally retarded and had been abused before he moved in with the family. He said the teen was removed from their home after his wife discovered Joshua had been abused.
Asked if he got his son professional help, he said, "We didn't come to that point."
The elder Komisarjevsky, who admitted he was rigid in his beliefs and described practices such as speaking in tongues, also testified that he learned Joshua later had some type of sexual contact with his sister.
"We didn't know what to do," he said. "I don't remember doing anything."
Komisarjevsky said that years later when his son was 15 and hospitalized after setting a gas station on fire, he was opposed to Joshua receiving medication.
"We felt as though he didn't need any more drugs in his life," Komisarjevsky said. "We just felt as though it's like a crutch, use of drugs is a good opportunity for somebody to become dependent on those drugs and not try to work it out."
He said the hospital did not recommend psychological treatment. "That would have been a good idea if they offered that," he said.
Komisarjevsky said he sent his son to a religious residential treatment program in New Hampshire for troubled teens, and informed the staff of his son had been sexually abused. He said he wanted to get him away from negative influences in Connecticut.
Komisarjevsky said he and his wife Jude didn't believe they could have children when they adopted Joshua when he was 2-weeks-old.
"It was a miracle to us we were able to get a child at that age," he said. "Joshua was always a miracle to us."
The defense showed several photos of Joshua Komisarjevsky as a baby and later painting a white picket fence while wearing his father's oversized T-shirt. Another photo showed the younger Komisarjevsky with his birthday cake at around age 4 and the foster teen next to him.
Prosecutors challenged the relevance of the photos, and Judge Jon Blue asked at one point if there would be a limit to them.
Joshua Komisarjevsky's attorney asked why the couple took in the teen and another girl with severe issues after adopting Joshua and having a daughter of their own.
"Nobody else loved them," the father said. "They needed love. We felt we could supply them the love that they needed."
The elder Komisarjevsky said he accepted Christ as a teenager and his faith has dominated his life since then. Asked about his marriage to a woman who shared his beliefs, he said, "We would be equally yoked, like two oxen."