Judge denies new trial in Connecticut home invasion case

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 18, 2012 11:48 AM
Judge denies new trial in Connecticut home invasion case

By Mary Ellen Godin

NEW HAVEN, Conn (Reuters) - A judge on Wednesday rejected convicted killer Joshua Komisarjevsky's requests for a new trial in a home invasion case that resulted in a jury sentencing him to death.

A week before he will be formally sentenced, a state superior court judge denied Komisarjevsky's motion for a new trial in the murder of a mother and her two daughters during the 2007 break-in at their Cheshire, Connecticut home.

Komisarjevsky, 31, claimed unprecedented pre-trial publicity prevented him from getting a fair jury and that members of the victims' family deliberately wore pins aimed at winning the jury's sympathy.

The same jury that convicted Komisarjevsky agreed in December 2011 that he should be executed for his crimes. His accomplice, Steven Hayes, 48, has been on death row since his sentencing in December 2010.

Connecticut has executed only one person, in 2005, since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Once formally sentenced on January 27, Komisarjevsky will bring to 11 the number of men on the state's death row, according to the Center.

Komisarjevsky and Hayes were convicted of the murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, who was raped and strangled, and her two daughters Hayley, 17 and Michaela, 11, who died of smoke inhalation after their home was set on fire by the fleeing assailants.

The sole survivor of the attack, Dr. William Petit, 55, who was beaten unconscious but escaped, was recently engaged to be married.

(Editing By Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)