One of the suspects in a the home invasion and murder of three Cheshire women wants his trial moved, claiming the sole survivor called him and “animal” and is campaigning for him to be executed.
Joshua Komisarjevsky’s attorney filed the court papers last week and in them, he called Dr. William Petit, the sole survivor of the attack, a "prominent member" of New Haven County and a sympathetic figure.
Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes could get the death penalty if they convicted in the brutal 2007 slayings of Petit's wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, and their two daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela. 11.
Getting the trial moved will be no easy feet, according to Hugh Keefe, a New Haven defense attorney 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.
Most change of venue requests are based on pretrial publicity, but legal experts said it would be difficult to convince a judge to move the trial out of New Haven.
Connecticut is a small state with about 3.6 million people and it’s is served by the same media that saturated the market with details of the crime, they said. To win a change of venue, lawyers must show that their clients could not get a fair trial in the original location.
Petit has maintained a high profile since the attacks, starting a foundation dedicated to his family, campaigning before the General Assembly for reforms to the state parole system and pushing for a "three-strikes" bill to require life sentences in prison for criminals convicted of a third violent crime.
He also lobbied against a proposal to overturn the state's death penalty, calling it "what is required to maintain the fabric of our society."
Komisarjevsky’s claims go beyond fear of not getting a fair trial. He also says in court papers he never intended to kill anyone and will try to convince a jury Hayes is to blame for the deaths.
Hayes' attorney is expected to blame Komisarjevsky.
Jury selection is scheduled to start in January in New Haven.