Sept. 22, 2011 -- A man on trial for the death of a mother and her two daughters was heard on a taped confession today saying he argued with his accomplice that the girls -- tied to their beds -- should be allowed to live, but admitted he did nothing to save them as he raced out of the house after it was set ablaze.
For a second day in a row the family of Dr. William Petit -- the sole survivor of the horrific crime -- endured the excruciating confession of Joshua Komisarjevsky who was captured by police as he tried to flee from the burning house on July 23, 2007.
The home invasion by Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes left Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, raped and strangled. Her two daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, died in the fire.
Dr. William Petit was beaten with a bat and tied up in the basement. He escaped and went to a neighbor's house for help.
On the tape, Komisarjevsky admits to beating the Dr. Petit and sexually assaulting Michaela, after cutting off some of her clothes with scissors, but denies killing the mother or starting the fire that killed Hayley and Michaela.
He blames Hayes for those deaths. Hayes was convicted and sentenced to death last year. He is currently on Connecticut's death row.
Komisarjevsky told police that things started to spin out of control after Hayes took Hawke-Petit to a bank to withdraw $15,000 they demanded. During Hayes' trial, testimony indicated that Hayes raped and strangled Hawke-Petit after they returned with the money.
Taped Confession of Joshua Komisarjevsky
Hayes was worried about leaving DNA evidence behind and insisted they had to burn down the house, Komisarjevsky said on his confession.
When Komisarjevsky heard Dr. Petit escape from the basement, he yelled to Hayes that they had to get out of the house. It was then that Komisarjevsky saw Hawke-Petit lying on the floor, half undressed and her face a deep shade of purple. He said he "knew she had been strangled" because of some EMT training he had received.
Hayes started pouring gasoline around the house, including upstairs where the two girls were tied to their beds, Komisarjevsky told the police. He said it didn't occur to him to untie Hayley and Michaela, and he told police that he argued with Hayes that the girls had been compliant and didn't deserve to die.
Komisarjevsly said he closed the girls' bedroom doors "to buy them time."
As Hayes struggled to light the matches, Komisarjevsky raced outside to start up a car and get away. By then police had swarmed the area. In his panic to escape, Komisarjevsky smashed into a police car and was apprehended soon after.
At one point, in response to a question on the tape Komisarjevsky said simply, "I f#d up…I got myself into a horrible situation."
On cross-examination, defense attorney Walter Bansley grilled Detective Joe Vitello, about a search of the Komisarjevsky home done just hours after he had been taken into custody. Komisarjevsky lived in his parent's house with his then-4-year-old daughter. Photos of the house were displayed for the jury and showed a child's colorful rainbow drawings on the refrigerator.
Attorney's also questioned Vitello about why police did not videotape or audiotape Komisarjevsky waiving his rights, trying to show the confession was not given freely.
Vitello admitted under cross examination that Komisarjevsky spoke to him for several hours before being audio taped, and that notes of that session are likely incomplete.
Defense attorneys have tried to show that it was Hayes who was responsible for the murders, and that Komisarjevsky was an easily led man who simply followed orders. Defense attorneys have also suggested that the police wasted valuable time outside the house
At the beginning of today's session, Komisarjevsky's attorneys again objected to the pins that Petit family members were wearing showing the Petit Family Foundation logo. Defense attorneys seemed irritated today when a family member also showed up wearing a shirt with a large insignia of the foundation on it. Johanna Petit Chapman agreed to put on a sweater. Judge Jon Blue overruled the objection, but warned the family that he could revisit his decision at a later time.
Defense attorneys also objected to the family's grief-stricken reaction to the playing of the audio tape in court Wednesday and suggested that there should be a mistrial. The judge rejected the motion.