Conn. Home Invasion Update: Judge Allows Dr. William Petit to Participate in Pretrial Sessions

Steven Hayes (Left) and Joshua Komisarjevsky
AP Photo/Connecticut State Police
Steven Hayes (Left) and Joshua Komisarjevsky
Steven Hayes (Left) and Joshua Komisarjevsky
AP Photo/Connecticut State Police

(CBS/AP) A judge on Wednesday rejected a request to bar Dr. William Petit from proceedings in the case against Joshua Komisarjevsky, the second defendant charged with the 2007  Connecticut home invasion that killed the other three members of Petit's family.

PICTURES: The Petit Family

Attorneys for Komisarjevsky had asked that Petit be kept out of the pretrial arguments and jury selection. They said Petit, whose wife and two daughters were murdered, had referred to the testimony of other witnesses when he took the stand at the trial of Komisarjevsky's co-defendant, Steven Hayes, who was sentenced to death last year.

Judge Jon Blue denied the motion but said attorneys could bring up the issue at the trial itself.

Blue said witnesses are not typically sequestered before trials but can be later if there are concerns their testimony could be affected by that of others.

Komisarjevsky's attorneys said some defense questions during jury selection may involve Petit's testimony. They requested that all witnesses be sequestered from hearing the testimony of other witnesses, but Wednesday's hearing focused only on Petit.

Attorneys for Komisarjevsky also want to move the trial to Fairfield County, the next county over, saying Komisarjevsky had been so "demonized" during the first trial that it was impossible for him to get a fair trial in New Haven. That motion will be heard next week.

Prosecutors say Hayes and Komisarjevsky, also an ex-convict, broke into the Petit house in July 2007, beat Hawke-Petit's husband, William, with a baseball bat, and forced her to withdraw money from a bank before Hayes strangled and sexually assaulted her.

Their daughters, 11-year-old Michaela and 17-year-old Hayley, died of smoke inhalation after they were tied to their beds with pillowcases over their heads and doused with gasoline before the house was set ablaze, according to testimony.

Jury selection for Komisarjevsky's trial is set to start March 14.