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Conn. Home Invasion Suspects in Court

  Breaking Legal News  -   POSTED: 2007/08/08 12:43

Two suspects in a burglary and arson that left three people dead and rocked a suburban town last month faced a slew of charges Tuesday in a heavily secured courthouse.

Family members of the victims - the wife and daughters of a prominent doctor, who survived the attack - filled two rows in the packed courtroom. A man was escorted from the courtroom after he yelled "Killer!" as Joshua Komisarjevsky faced the judge. Otherwise, the brief hearing was quiet.

Komisarjevsky, 26, and Steven Hayes, 44, did not enter pleas and spoke only to answer yes or no questions. Department of Corrections special operations team members wearing fatigues and heavy, black vests kept watch on the two.

The men have been held on $15 million bond since July 23, when they are accused of taking the family hostage, killing 48-year-old Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11.

The state medical examiner said Hawke-Petit, who was taken to a bank and forced to withdraw money during the ordeal, was strangled. The girls died from smoke inhalation after the family's suburban Cheshire home was set ablaze.

William Petit Jr. was badly beaten but managed to escape. He did not attend Tuesday's hearing.

Jeremiah Donovan, the attorney appointed to represent Komisarjevsky as a special public defender, acknowledged the challenge of working on such a high-profile case.

"I myself live with a beloved wife and two lovely daughters, but I'm going to defend Joshua with all the ability and all the vigor that I might have," he said.

Komisarjevsky and Hayes, who met in a halfway house and were on parole when the crime occurred, are charged with capital felony, kidnapping, sexual assault, assault, burglary, robbery, arson, larceny and risk of injury to children. Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.


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