Grim photos dominate 2007 Conn. home invasion trial

Prosecutors also showed photos of the bodies of the victims as they were found by police and firefighters


By Stephen Singer
Associated Press

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Prosecutors showed jurors grim photos Thursday of rope used to tie up victims, ripped clothing and ransacked rooms in a suburban home invasion that began with the suspects trailing a mother and her two girls at supermaket and ended with their deaths.

Dr. William Petit, the sole survivor, who was beaten and tied up in the basement but escaped before the fire was set, hung his head at times as prosecutors showed photo after photo of burned staircases and hallways and images of his childrens' badly torn and burned clothing.

Petit had sobbed during Wednesday's testimony as photos of his daughters' bodies were shown at the trial of Steven Hayes, one of two suspects charged with murder, sexual assault and other crimes in the deaths of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters on July 23, 2007.

The photos included images of rope used to tie up the victims; ripped shorts and other belongings of 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela; ransacked rooms; and melted containers that prosecutors said contained accelerants used by Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky to destroy evidence with a fire.

Prosecutors say Komisarjevsky saw Hawke-Petit and her daughters as they shopped for groceries and followed them to their home in the affluent suburb of Cheshire. He returned later with Hayes, authorities say, and together they severely beat William Petit, now 53, and killed his wife and daughters.

Komisarjevsky is awaiting trial. They both face the possibility of the death penalty if convicted. State Police Sgt. Karen Gabianelli took the stand in New Haven Superior Court, leading prosecutors through photos displayed on a screen before the jury. On Wednesday, prosecutors showed photos of the bodies of the victims as they were found by police and firefighters.

In all the bedrooms, jewelry was removed, Gabianelli said.

"It looked like it had been gone through pretty well," she said.

In another bedroom where clothes were strewn about, she said, "The closet was pretty well gone through, too."

Hayes and Komisarjevsky were paroled burglars at the time of the invasion.

Prosecutors showed photos of a pickup truck they say Hayes drove. Photos show the interior containing a knapsack belonging to the 17-year-old along with jewelry, including a string of pearls stored in a plastic bag.

Superior Court Judge Jon Blue ended the session after defense lawyer Thomas Ullmann said his client had "medical issues" and unspecified information related to security. Earlier, Ullmann said Hayes had seizure-like symptoms and urinated on himself Wednesday night.
 

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