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Joshua Komisarjevsky, defendant in Petit home invasion trial, playing "blame game," says Conn. prosecutor

Closing arguments today in Conn. home invasion trial
Joshua Komisarjevsky WSFB

(CBS/AP) NEW HAVEN - Joshua Komisarjevsky, charged with killing a Cheshire, Conn. woman and her two daughters, has been playing a "blame game" against his co-defendant, but it took two men to carry out the brutal 2007 Petit family home invasion, a prosecutor told a jury in his closing argument Tuesday.

Pictures: Petit family

Prosecutor Gary Nicholson said that Komisarjevsky was motivated not just by money, but by his interest in 11-year-old Michaela Petit, whom he spotted with her mother earlier at a supermarket. He is charged with sexually assaulting her.

Authorities say Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes broke into the family's home, beat Dr. William Petit with a bat, tied up him and his family, and forced his wife to withdraw money from a bank. The house was doused in gas and set on fire, leading to the girls' deaths from smoke inhalation.

Hayes was convicted last year of raping and strangling Jennifer Hawke-Petit and killing her daughters. He is on death row.

Komisarjevsky's attorneys tried to delay closing arguments earlier Tuesday, saying Hayes wrote letters claiming he committed numerous other murders and rapes.

The attorneys cited letters from Hayes claiming he killed 17 people in the Northeast and committed dozens of drugged date-rapes. Letters to a woman in North Carolina were intercepted.

Hayes also says he would have killed Komisarjevsky if they got away with the Connecticut crime, according to the defense motion.

Judge Jon Blue denied a request to delay closing arguments, saying the letters didn't help Komisarjevsky's case.

Komisarjevsky has insisted Hayes wanted to kill the family and he blamed Hayes for pouring the gas and lighting the house on fire. Komisarjevsky said he did not intend for anyone to die.

But Nicholson said Hayes got lost when he went out to get the gas and that Komisarjevsky gave him directions back to the house when he knew the plan was to set the house on fire. If he had not directed Hayes back to the house, the family could have survived, he said.

"The defendant has been playing the blame game," Nicholson said. "Make no mistake ladies and gentlemen, this is simply damage control on his part."

The break-in was planned by Komisarjevsky, who escalated the violence by attacking William Petit with a bat, Nicholson said.

The gas was poured in a way to ensure the girls were killed, Nicholson said, noting it was on the stairs that were the girls' only escape route.

Nicholson says both men had a motive to kill the family because each had committed a sexual assault and were worried about their DNA.

Jeremiah Donovan, Komisarjevsky's attorney, said Komisarjevsky admitted to molesting Michaela and assaulting her father, but he never intended to kill anyone. He played a part of Komisarjevsky's confession in which he claims he told Hayes, "No one is dying by my hand today."

Donovan also said the jury should not be swayed by what the sole survivor's family wants. He noted that William Petit and his relatives sit a few feet away from jurors.

"They stare at you. You know what they want," Donovan said. "Put them out of your mind."

Donovan said Komisarjevsky should get a life sentence.

Complete coverage of the Petit family home invasion on Crimesider
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