State objects to moving Conn. home invasion trial

In this July 1007 photograph supplied by the Connecticut State Police, Joshua Komisarjevsky is shown. Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes face the possibility of the death penalty if convicted in the 2007 killings of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela. Hawke-Petit's husband, Dr. William Petit, was beaten but survived. (AP Photo/Connecticut State Police)

February 10, 2011 5:04:56 PM PST
Prosecutors on Thursday objected to efforts by the second man charged with a gruesome home invasion to move his trial and remove the judge.

Attorneys for Joshua Komisarjevsky last week asked to move the trial from New Haven to adjacent Fairfield County, saying Komisarjevsky had been so "demonized" during the trial of co-defendant Steven Hayes that he couldn't get a fair trial. They said Judge Jon Blue repeatedly made gratuitous comments during Hayes' trial.

Prosecutors said extensive media coverage does not prove prejudicial publicity and that jurors would be questioned extensively under oath. They called the defense claims about Blue "legally irrelevant, factually inaccurate and a product of wishful thinking, pure speculation and mild hysteria."

Blue's comments were "eminently fair and were well founded and appropriate" based on the evidence, prosecutors said. The judge's comments reflected the jury's verdict, not his personal conclusions, they said.

A hearing on whether Blue should be disqualified will be held next week by another judge.

Authorities say the two men killed Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, 11-year-old Michaela and 17-year-old Hayley, during the home invasion in 2007 in Cheshire.

Hayes sexually assaulted and strangled Hawke-Petit. Authorities say he and Komisarjevsky tied her daughters to their beds, poured gasoline on or around them and set fire to their home.

The girls' father, Dr. William Petit, was beaten but survived.

The girls died of smoke inhalation.

Hayes was convicted last year and condemned to death. Jury selection for Komisarjevsky's trial starts March 14.

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