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Cheshire Police Detective Joe Vitello is currently on the stand in New Haven Superior Court as attorneys for accused killer Joshua Komisarjevsky continue their cross examination of testimony he gave late last week.
Vitello was one of the first detectives on scene and apprehended Komisarjevsky and his accomplice Steven Hayes on July 23, 2007, as the two were attempting to flee the Petit house after a home invasion that had left three Cheshire women dead and Dr. William Petit, the sole survivor of the attack, badly beaten.
Vitello was the officer who took Komisarjevsky's statement after the incident, first trying to get him to write it down, then recording his verbal account of what took place. The jury heard that recorded statement last week, where Komisarjevsky described in graphic detail the events of the home invasion and his sexual molestation of one of the victims, 11-year old Michaela Petit. The testimony was so shocking at times, Judge Jon Blue, who is residing over the trial, stopped proceedings on Wednesday of last week because, as he put it, one juror was 'having a hard time' listening to the details.
Komisarjevsky is accused of entering the Petit home in Cheshire in the early morning hours of July 23, beating Dr. Petit, and holding Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, Hayley and Michaela, hostage in order to extort money from them. According to testimony provided in both the Hayes and Komisarjevsky trials, the two men had planned to burglarize the house but, when they found no money, decided instead to wait until the morning and drive Hawke-Petit to her bank to withdraw $15,000. The two had found a bank slip in the home showing the family had a considerable amount in one of their accounts.
What exactly happened during the course of the night remains unclear, as both men have claimed that it was the other that turned the situation violent, leading to Hayes raping and strangling Hawke-Petit and a fire being set in the house, which resulted in the deaths of the two daughters.
Hayes was tried and convicted on all but one count last year, and was subsequently sentenced to death. Komisarjevsky faces the same fate if found guilty himself.
For more on the trial, check back here for continuing updates, and to read the full story of the second week of testimony, see this Thursday's Cheshire Herald.