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Change of venue sought in triple slaying

Feb. 23, 2011 at 6:10 PM

NEW HAVEN, Conn., Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Defense lawyers for a man charged in three killings want a change of venue from New Haven, Conn., saying a co-defendant's trial has prejudiced possible jurors.

Wednesday's hearing considered whether to move the trial of Joshua Komisarjevsky out of New Haven where the first defendant, Steve Hayes, was convicted and sentenced to death in the 2007 slayings of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, Hayley and Michaela, The Hartford Courant reported.

The trial attracted nationwide media attention and lawyers say they are concerned whether an impartial jury can be impaneled in New Haven for Komisarjevsky's trial.

The defense presented two expert witnesses who testified in the hearing they analyzed media coverage of the Hayes trial, the Courant said.

Celia R. Lofink of Litigation Solutions of East Hartford testified in analyzing media coverage for the Hayes trial she found 1,808 articles including the words "Komisarjevsky" and "William Petit" on the Internet.

Steven Penrod, a psychology professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said he analyzed the impact of pretrial publicity on juries in criminal and civil cases and found pretrial coverage for Komisarjevsky's case to be "overwhelming."

Jury selection in the Komisarjevsky trial is scheduled for March 14.

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