Second trial to start in Conn. triple-slaying

Sept. 19, 2011 at 4:18 PM   |   Comments

NEW HAVEN, Conn., Sept. 19 (UPI) -- The lawyer for one of two men accused of killing a woman and her two daughters during a 2007 Connecticut home invasion says his client was not the ringleader.

Joshua Komisarjevsky, 31, faces the death penalty if he is convicted of killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters Hayley and Michaela. He faces 17 counts in the incident, including murder, capital felony, kidnapping, sexual assault, arson, assault and larceny, The Hartford Courant reported.

In his opening statement Monday, defense attorney Walter C. Bansley III said Komisarjevsky was planning to break into and rob the Petit home in Cheshire, Conn., but did not have a weapon.

He said Komisarjevsky "was a willing participant in the break-in but not" in the killings and alleged Steven Hayes, convicted and sentenced to death last year for the home invasion, was the one who raped and strangled Hawke-Petit and set the fire that killed the two girls.

Defense attorneys are expected to argue that their client suffers from a mental disorder because he purportedly was raped when he was 6 years old by a teenage foster child living with the Komisarjevskys, the New Haven Register reported.

Dr. William Petit Jr., the sole survivor of the July 23, 2007, attack at his family's home is scheduled to testify. Petit was badly beaten by the attackers but escaped.

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