A courtroom outburst by a juror last week interrupted jury selection for the trial of Joshua Komisarjevsky in New Haven Superior Court.
According to an article by New Haven Register columnist Randall Beach published Saturday, the woman, an immigrant from Chile, swore at the Cheshire home invasion defendant and yelled "murderer" after the defense used a peremptory challenge to dismiss her from jury service. She was removed from the courtroom by a judicial marshal.
Defense lawyer Walter Bansley III argued that the incident illustrated why the trial should be moved out of the New Haven judicial district, where a large number of prospective jurors feel so strongly Komisarjevsky should be executed they would conceal their bias to get on the trial jury.
But Judge Jon C. Blue rejected Bansley’s contention that the jury pool is hopelessly tainted.
Komisarjevsky faces the death penalty for the triple homicide in 2007 in which Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, Michaela, 11, and Hayley, 17, were killed.
Testimony at the 2010 trial of his co-defendant, Steven Hayes, portrayed Komisarjevsky as the mastermind of the crime, which they reportedly planned as a kidnapping and robbery.
According to authorities, Komisarjevsky beat Dr. William Petit with a baseball bat. While Hayes accompanied Hawke-Petit to her bank to withdraw money for them, Komisarjevsky allegedly raped the younger daughter, photographing the sexual assault on his cellphone. Then he goaded Hayes into raping and strangling the mother, police said.
Komisarjevsky admitted much of this, but denied raping the girl and claimed that Hayes was the mastermind.
As they attempted their escape, the pair set the house on fire, which killed the daughters from smoke inhalation. Police, who were alerted by bank officials, were waiting for them outside.
The intense media coverage and brutality of the crime have made it difficult to find impartial jurors for the case.
So far, defense lawyers and prosecutors have picked eight jurors to serve on the trial. Jury selection will continue on Monday.