NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - One of two men charged in a deadly home invasion says the trial may need to be moved because the sole survivor of the attack has called him an "animal" and is campaigning for his execution.
Court papers filed last week by an attorney for Joshua
Komisarjevsky says Dr. William Petit has repeatedly made
inflammatory remarks about his client. He said he is investigating
a change of venue request, based on Petit's comments and pretrial
The attorney called Petit a "prominent member" of New Haven
County and a sympathetic figure.
Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes face the possibility of the death
penalty if convicted in the 2007 killings of Petit's wife, Jennifer
Hawke-Petit, and their two daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and
11-year-old Michaela. Petit was beaten during the ordeal in
Cheshire, but survived.
New Haven State's Attorney Michael Dearington declined to
comment. Telephone messages were left for lawyers for Petit,
Komisarjevsky and Hayes, who typically decline to comment because
of a gag order in the case.
Change of venues are rarely granted, said Hugh Keefe, a defense
attorney in New Haven who was denied requests to move the
corruption trial of an aide to former Gov. John G. Rowland and in
the high-profile case of Beth Carpenter, convicted of a murder for
hire in 2002.
Former Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim, who is serving nine years
for corruption, was turned down in his request to move his federal
trial from New Haven to Bridgeport. But a change of venue was
ordered in 2006 for the trial of a man accused of providing cocaine
to Ganim's successor, former Bridgeport Mayor John Fabrizi, after a
federal judge found most prospective jurors were aware of the high
Legal experts said it would be difficult to convince a judge to
move the Cheshire trial out of New Haven, noting that Connecticut
is a small state. Most of Connecticut, which has about 3.6 million
people, is served by the same media market that saturated readers
and viewers with details of the crime.
"The case has achieved so much notoriety there really isn't any
place you could send it," said defense attorney Eugene Riccio.
Most change of venue requests are based on pretrial publicity.
To win a change of venue, lawyers must show that their clients
could not get a fair and impartial trial in the original location.
Petit has maintained a high profile since the attacks. In
addition to starting a foundation decidated to his family, Petit
has campaigned before the General Assembly for reforms to the state
parole system and pushed for a "three-strikes" bill to require
life sentences in prison for criminals convicted of a third violent
He also lobbied against a proposal to overturn the state's death
penalty, calling it "what is required to maintain the fabric of
Komisarjevsky also says in court papers filed late last week in
New Haven Superior Court that he never intended to kill anyone in
the home invasion and will try to convince a jury that Hayes is to
blame for the deaths. Hayes' attorney is expected to blame
Jury selection is scheduled to start in January in New Haven.
Cheshire Home Invasion Defendant Says Trial May Need A Move
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