Jeremiah Donovan has dubbed them the "Petit posse" and tried to get Judge Jon Blue to ban Petit from the courtroom and other family members from wearing memorial pins. Normally, witnessed are not allowed to sit in court for testimony, but because Petit is both a witness and a victim, the judge has allowed him to remain. Blue also ruled that family members could continue wearing their pins.
The attorneys filed a motion to have the jury sequestered during the trial because of all the publicity surrounding the case. That too was denied.
The trio of defense attorneys who have called themselves the "most hated men in America" have also taken Petit to task for his outspoken support of the death penalty. They have accused him of "mounting a public relations campaign" in support of the death penalty.
Donovan took issue with the wording of an "in memoriam" notice written by Petit in which he described his family's killers as "pure evil." In a court motion, the defense attorneys slammed the characterization as inaccurate and inappropriate and instead referred to their client as "a damaged human being" who deserved a chance to respond to the allegations.
Well-known Connecticut trial attorney Norman Pattis said the defense team has little choice but to be aggressive, even against such a sympathetic figure as Petit.
"I think defense counsel has resorted to a total war strategy, but what choice do they have? There has been a gag order on the counsel, but not on the complaining witness in the case (Petit) who has done everything but bang a blood red drum demanding death in this case," said Pattis. "Jerry Donovan has no choice but to fight hard for this man's life."
Pattis said that he does not believe Komisarjevsky will be able to get a fair trial in Connecticut because "the environment is polluted with hostility."
The Petit's house at 300 Sorghum Mill Drive is in a leafy upper middle class suburb in Cheshire, Conn., a town of about 30,000 people nestled in the middle of the state.
Hayley was about to start at Dartmouth College as a freshman and Michaela attended a private school. Dr. Petit had a thriving medical practice and Jennifer Hawke-Petit worked as a nurse.
"Let's face it, these are white, middle class victims.These defendants are accused and most likely did kill the American Dream and that's not going to be easily forgiven," said Pattis. "And it's clear Dr. Petit wants these men dead."
At the time of the murders, some members of the Connecticut legislature were prepared to consider abolishing the death penalty. According to Pattis, Petit lobbied them not do so.
"These men offered to plead guilty and they should have been allowed to do so," said Pattis who believes the state wanted a show trial to satisfy the public's need to punish someone publicly for the crimes.
"It is clear to me that there is blood lust in the air," said Pattis.