Dr. Petit Allowed in Komisarjevsky Pretrial Sessions

By LeAnne Gendreau and Diana Perez
|  Wednesday, Feb 16, 2011  |  Updated 3:17 PM EDT
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Death Row, Connecticut

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Judge Jon Blue heard day two of pre-trial motions on Wednesday in the case of a man charged in the home invasion slayings of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters.

He rejected the defense's request to exclude Dr. William Petit, the sole survivor of the attacks, from the court room during pretrial arguments and jury selection.

Attorneys for Joshua Komisarjevsky said Petit referred to the testimony of other witnesses when he testified at the trial of Steven Hayes.

Jennifer and her daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, were brutally killed in July 2007. Authorities said Hayes and Komisarjevsky tied Hayley and Michaela to their beds, poured gasoline on or around them and set fire to their home, killing them.

Hayes and Komisarjevsky have blamed each other for escalating the crime, but prosecutors say both men were equally responsible.

Hayes was the first suspect to be tried and was convicted and sentenced him to death.

Komisarjevsky's attorneys said some defense questions during jury selection may involve Petit's testimony and they requested that all witnesses be sequestered from hearing the testimony of other witnesses, but Wednesday's hearing focused only on Petit.

Blue denied the motion to keep Dr. Petit from the room but said attorneys could bring up the issue at trial. Blue said witnesses are not typically sequestered before trials but can be later if there are concerns their testimony could be affected by that of others.

One of the matters still to be decided is whether reporters can tweet from Komisarjevsky’s trial, the way they did from the trial of Hayes.

No decision was made, but Blue intends to announce his decision before a jury is selected.

While broadcasting is not allowed from Connecticut courtrooms, Blue allowed tweeting from Hayes’ trial.

On Wednesday, the defense and judge discussed the difference between that and broadcasting.

Blue said the law against broadcasting in sexual assault cases is that the victim’s face or voice gets out into the public. It's different from a reporter writing down accounts or their recollection of an account in court, he said.

A picture is worth a million words, said Blue, who still remembers some things he saw on TV, but doesn't remember a tweet he's ever read.

The defense also complained about the “fishbowl effect” and called the case a media frenzy.

The state’s attorney is not bothered by the tweets and Blue said he will announce his decision about tweets from this trial before a jury is selected.
 

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