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Connecticut home invasion suspect says he was abused as a child, psychologist testifies

Joshua Komisarjevsky
WSFB
Connecticut home invasion suspect says he was abused as a child, psychologist testifies
Joshua Komisarjevsky
WSFB

(CBS/AP) NEW HAVEN - Joshua Komisarjevsky, charged in the brutal 2007 home invasion in Connecticut that left three members of the Petit family dead, says he was repeatedly sexually and physically abused as a child, a psychologist hired by the defense testified Wednesday.

Pictures: Petit Family Murders

Dr. Leo Shea testified that Komisarjevsky told him he was sexually abused from ages 4 to 6 and that he was tortured by being burned. One person Komisarjevsky said had abused him admitted to it, Shea said.

Komisarjevsky faces a possible death sentence if convicted of the home invasion that killed Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela Petit. He is also charged with sexually abusing Michaela.

Authorities say Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes, both paroled burglars, broke into the Petit family's home in July 2007, beat Dr. William Petit with a bat and tied up him and his family. Hayes was sentenced to death after he was convicted last year of raping and strangling Petit's wife and killing the couple's two daughters, who died of smoke inhalation after the house was doused in gas and set on fire.

Komisarjevsky's attorneys have portrayed their client as panicked and indecisive, saying he suffers from "cognitive difficulties" that makes him unable to make quick decisions in stressful situations.

Komisarjevsky accused Hayes of the killings in an audiotaped confession but couldn't explain why he didn't untie the girls.

Shea said tests indicate that Komisarjevsky could have suffered brain damage. Teast also showed that Komisarjevsky is slow to process information and scored poorly on his ability to concentrate and shift his thinking, he said.

"He's a guy who thought a lot about what he was going to do, and when he put it into practice, it was a mess," Shea said, referring to a test.

State's Attorney Michael Dearington argued that Komisarjevsky had plenty of time to think about what he was doing after he spotted Hawke-Petit and one of her daughters at a super market, followed them to their house and returned later for the home invasion. He pressed Shea about his findings and how they relate to the crime.

"I'm saying in stressful situations he has reduced ability to make good decisions," Shea said.

Closing arguments are planned for Oct. 10.

Complete coverage of the Petit family murders on Crimesider