NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A man convicted in a Connecticut home invasion that left a woman and her two daughters dead in 2007 is set to go before a judge in a bid to win a new trial.
Appellate lawyers for Joshua Komisarjevsky are expected to argue Tuesday in New Haven Superior Court that his trial lawyers weren’t provided with police phone call recordings crucial to the defense.
Police in Cheshire had said the recordings were destroyed during a lightning strike at the police station in 2010 before Komisarjevsky’s trial, but backups of the recordings were found in 2014 at town hall.
Lawyers said the recordings would have proved a defense theory that the police response to the home invasion was inadequate, an effort to question the credibility of police witnesses who testified against Komisarjevsky.
Prosecutors say nothing in the recordings warrants a new trial.
The crime in the affluent suburb drew comparisons to the one described in Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood.”
During the hours-long ordeal, authorities said Hayes drove Hawke-Petit to a bank and forced to her to withdraw money. Back at the Petits’ home, police said Komisarjevsky sexually assaulted Michaela and Hayes sexually assaulted and strangled Hawke-Petit.
The two men tied the girls to their beds and set the house on fire before fleeing in the Petits’ station wagon and crashing into police cruisers responding to the scene.
The girls died of smoke inhalation.
Hawke-Petit’s husband, Dr. William Petit, was severely beaten but survived.
Hawke-Petit’s family has been critical of the police response, saying officers waited too long to enter the home.
Records show police were first called at 9:21 a.m. on July 23, 2007, by the manager at the bank where Hayes took Hawke-Petit, while Hawke-Petit was still in the bank. The manager said Hawke-Petit told a teller her family was being held hostage.
A motion filed by Komisarjevsky’s lawyers said police failed to stop Hayes and Hawke-Petit as they returned to the Petits’ home from the bank.
Police responded to the Petits’ home shortly after the call from the bank manager. Other recordings show a town hostage negotiator was told not to report to the Petits’ home, and one police official doubted the accuracy of Hawke-Petit’s comments to the bank teller.
At around 10 a.m., Komisarjevsky and Hayes sped away from the burning home in the Petits’ car before crashing into police cruisers.
Police have declined to comment on their response in the past.
Komisarjevsky and Hayes both faced the death penalty but will now serve life in prison about the penalty was abolished in Connecticut.
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