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Lawyers Ask To Bar Petit From Courtroom In Second Cheshire Murders Trial

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(Jessica Hill/AP Photo)

(Jessica Hill/AP Photo)

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ Attorneys for a Connecticut man charged with killing a woman and her two daughters want the woman’s husband kept out of the courtroom while other witnesses testify.

Joshua Komisarjevsky’s attorneys want Dr. William Petit sequestered, saying he referred repeatedly to testimony of earlier witnesses while testifying in the earlier trial of a co-defendant, Steven Hayes, and even corrected what others had said under oath.

Defense attorneys also said Petit is known to most jurors and has for four years advocated for Komisarjevsky’s conviction and execution.

Prosecutors do not have any real interest in Petit’s presence in court “aside from the potential to unduly influence jurors seated in close proximity to the Petit posse,” defense attorneys wrote Tuesday, referring to Petit and his supporters.

Prosecutors objected, saying Petit has given consistent testimony and would not be affected by other witnesses. They say he has a right to attend the trial as a victim, defense attorneys could cross-examine him about any inconsistencies and the judge could instruct the jury that it may consider Petit’s exposure to the testimony of other witnesses when evaluating his testimony.
“Based upon Dr. Petit’s prior statements to police and prior trial testimony there is no reason to believe that his testimony in Hayes was at all tailored to the testimony of other witnesses,” prosecutors wrote. “Nor is there any reason to believe that such would occur in this case.”

A judge has not ruled yet on the request.

Komisarjevsky and Hayes were charged with killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters during a 2007 home invasion in Cheshire. Hayes was sentenced to death last year.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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