Conn. investigator: Home invasion suspects exchanged text messages hours before fatal attacks

By John Christoffersen, AP
Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cop: Home invasion suspects texted hours before

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Two Connecticut men charged with killing a woman and her two daughters in a 2007 home invasion exchanged text messages hours before in which one said he had to put his own child to bed, an investigator testified Thursday.

State police investigator John Farnham testified at the trial of Steven Hayes that Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky (koh-mih-sar-JEV’-skee), texted each other the evening of July 22, hours before the attacks in Cheshire.

Farnham said Hayes messaged Komisarjevsky that he was “chomping at the bit to get started.” Komisarjevsky responded: “Putting kid to bed. Hold your horses.” Komisarjevsky has a young daughter.

Prosecutors say Komisarjevsky spotted Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters at a supermarket on July 22 and followed them home, then returned with Hayes early the next day to rob the family. Komisarjevsky is awaiting trial.

Hayes and Komisarjevsky, two paroled burglars, are accused of beating and tying up Dr. William Petit, taking his family hostage and forcing his wife to withdraw money from a bank.

Hayes, 47, is accused of sexually assaulting and strangling Hawke-Petit. Komisarjevsky, 30, is charged with sexually assaulting 11-year-old Michaela. The two allegedly tied Michaela and her 17-year-old sister, Hayley, to their beds, poured gasoline on and around them and set the house on fire, killing the girls, authorities say.

Dr. Petit managed to escape.

Hayes and Komisarjevsky fled the burning home in the family’s car and were caught after ramming several police cruisers, authorities said.

Connecticut’s medical examiner, Wayne Carver, testified Thursday that Hayley’s injuries suggested she was burned as she tried to flee, despite being tied up.

Carver said Hayley was found lying facedown in a hallway but the front of her clothing was more severely burned than the back. Carver said Hayley had been tied up but somehow made it to the hallway and was exposed to the flames. She died from smoke inhalation, he said.

Carver testified Wednesday that Michaela died from breathing smoke and likely had a painful, panic-stricken death.

Hawke-Petit was strangled before the fire, Dr. Susan Williams, associate medical examiner testified. She said victims of strangulation typically become unconscious after 8 to 15 seconds.

A juror wept after looking at autopsy photos of Hawke-Petit.

Hayes and Komisarjevsky have blamed each other for escalating the crimes.

Under cross examination by Hayes’ attorneys Thursday, Farnham testified that Komisarjevsky’s cell phone contained photos of Komisarjevsky in a state of sexual arousal shortly before the time of the crime. It also contained graphic photos of a young female and one photo, possibly of a second female, undressed, he testified.

As trial resumed on Thursday, the judge said prosecutors expect to conclude their case early next week. The two men face the possibility of the death penalty if convicted.

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