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Jurors hear confession in home invasion murders

This June 2007 photo provided by Dr. William Petit Jr., shows Dr. Petit, left, with his daughters Michaela, front, Hayley, center rear, and his wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, on Cape Cod, Mass. Dr. Petit was severely beaten and his wife and two daughters were killed during a home invasion in Cheshire, Conn., July 23, 2007. The penalty phase of the trial of 47-year-old Steven Hayes, convicted of 16 counts for the killings, starts Monday, Oct. 18, 2010, in New Haven Superior Court. ((AP Photo/William Petit, File))
September 21, 2011 6:18:35 PM PDT
Speaking matter-of-factly and laughing occasionally, a Connecticut man told police in a recorded confession played for jurors Wednesday how he and another man terrorized a family during a brutal home invasion that left a woman and her two daughters dead.

Joshua Komisarjevsky mostly sounds subdued and calls the crime "home invasion gone terribly wrong." He details how he beat a sleeping Dr. William Petit with a bat, tied up him and his family, and molested his 11-year-old daughter, Michaela.

But Komisarjevsky blamed his co-defendant, Steven Hayes, for turning a home robbery into a triple murder by strangling Petit's wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, and dousing the house with gas and setting it on fire. Michaela and her 17-year-old sister, Hayley, died of smoke inhalation.

"I'm not killing anyone. That's not how it's going down," Komisarjevsky said he told Hayes.

He said Hayes was worried about leaving behind DNA evidence and insisted the family had to be killed.

As the tape played, Petit sat hunched in the front row staring at the floor, and his sister clutched a tissue as she put her arm around him. Jurors followed along on a transcript.

Hayes was convicted last year of killing the girls and raping and strangling Hawke-Petit after taking her to a bank to withdraw money. Hayes, who also blamed Komisarjevsky for escalating the violence, is on death row.

Komisarjevsky faces a possible death sentence if convicted.

He told police he spotted Hawke-Petit and one of her daughters at a supermarket in July 2007, noticed they had a nice car and followed them home. He later returned with Hayes and broke in through a basement door.

He portrays himself as reluctantly attacking Petit, saying Petit let out "this unearthly scream" and looked confused.

He laughs at a few points, such as when he's describing Hayes going out to get gas and struggling to find a gas station.

Komisarjevsky admitted to molesting Michaela. His attorney said during opening arguments Monday that Komisarjevsky also masturbated in the girl's presence.

Komisarjevsky said the girl was sweating profusely when he entered her room. He repeatedly refers to her by her nickname, "KK."

Shortly after that disclosure, a judge stopped the recording. He said a juror was having a tough time. The rest of the confession is expected to be played Thursday.

The Associated Press obtained a transcript of the confession before the case's second trial began this week, but the audio was played in court Wednesday for the first time.

Earlier Wednesday, jurors got their first look at graphic photos from inside the home. Most of the jurors gazed downward after seeing the photos. A few appeared close to tears, and one man gripped his face.

Jurors were shown the photos after firefighters and a police lieutenant testified about their grim discovery in the house.

Michaela, 11, was found on her bed with her hands tied over her head and her lower body hanging off the bed. Hayley, 17, was found at the top of the stairs. Hawke-Petit was in a family room.


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