Heated Hearing in Home Invasion Case

New details emerge: The defendants would have taken a plea, according to prosecutors.

Tempers flared during a court hearing in the case against two suspects in a deadly home invasion in Cheshire that happened two years ago this week.

Joshua Komisarjevsky and Stephen Hayes face capital felony and many other charges in the deaths of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, and daughters Hayley and Michaela Petit, after a home invasion and attack on July 23, 2007.

In a court appearance Tuesday afternoon, both of their attorneys announced they've repeatedly offered to plead guilty in the case in exchange for no death penalty.  It's something prosecutors have repeatedly refused, they said. 

The announcement came in response to a motion filed by State Victim  Advocate Michelle Cruz, who sought clarification of the trial timeline on behalf of Dr. William Petit, the lone survivor, and other relatives who feel the process is moving too slow.

Outside court, Dr. Petit appeared stunned and angered by the comments from the defense attorneys.  "I thought, wow, so now we the Petit and Hawke families are the people who are the causes of this?  We are the people who are costing the state money and we are victimizing ourselves, when all we're looking for is justice?" said Petit.

Earlier in the hearing, Superior Court Judge Richard Damiani lashed out at Cruz.  "Any intonation that we've been dragging our feet is an insult to me and the entire process in Connecticut," said Damiani.

Cruz was also seeking an order barring the defense from contacting the Petit and Hawke families.  The judge said by law he is unable to restrict them from contacting witnesses, and lashed out at her again.  "Did you want the publicity?" asked Judge Damiani.  "Because if you did, you got it."

Dr. Petit, and other family members, say they've recently received letters from a North Carolina attorney claiming to be a liaison between Komisarjevsky's defense team and the family.  "She made ridiculous statements such as you may have questions for the defense attorneys or their clients," said Dr. Petit outside court.  "When I got it I was flabbergasted.  I thought perhaps I should ask why you abducted, tortured, molested, raped, and murdered three young women for 15,000 dollars?"

Dr. Petit requested to read a statement in court.  The judge did not allow him to do so, saying it was not the proper forum.

Judge Damiani pointed out the January trial date is nearly one year ahead of schedule compared to typical death penalty trials.  Prosecutors have been ready for trial since March 2008, said Dr. Petit outside court. 

The case is back in court in September, when a motion to have a joint trial in the case may be heard.  For now, Stephen Hayes is scheduled to go on trial in January.

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