One of two men on death row for killing a Cheshire family and burning down their house in 2007 is asking for a new trial, citing phone conversations among police that were never released to the defense.
Joshua Komisarjevsky, who was convicted in 2011 and sentenced to death alongside Steven Hayes, filed a motion to appeal the verdict on Aug. 29. The men are accused of brutally attacking and murdering Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters in their home on Sorghum Mill Drive.
According to the motion, Komisarjevsky’s attorneys “have learned of a number of police calls that would have provided substantial additional support for his contention during the guilt-innocence phase that the police response… was inadequate, and that, therefore, a number of the Cheshire police officers who testified against him had a motive, self-interest, bias a prejudice against him.”
Among the calls that were allegedly withheld is one from an officer who was at the house watching Hayes drive Hawke-Petit back from the bank, where he asked her to withdraw money. During the trial, police said Hayes had already returned when they arrived.
Another call came from a sergeant on scene who did not testify at either trial, and two more calls instructed a hostage negotiator and SWAT officer not to report to the police station, according to the motion.
“It is difficult to imagine that the State’s failure to preserve this evidence was not in bad faith, and therefore, that failure violated the appellant’s federal due process rights,” the motion says, claiming violation of Komisarjevsky’s Eighth and 14th Amendment rights.
“The State's treatment of the police calls deprived the appellant of a powerful tool to impeach the police officers who testified against him at the guilt-innocence phase and, thus, might well have produced his convictions for capital felony, which made him eligible for the death penalty,” it continues.
In a 2012 death row interview, Komisarjevsky offered no remorse and said he tries not to think about the brutal attacks.
Connecticut has repealed the death penalty since the convictions of Komisarjevsky and Hayes.