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Second defendant in Conn. home invasion murders may have poured the gas, detective says

Joshua Komisarjevsky is seen in this undated photograph provided by the Connecticut State Police. Komisarjevsky is accused of following a mother and her daughters to their Cheshire, Conn., home. Authorities say he and Steven Hayes tormented the family for hours in July 2007 before killing the mother, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 11-year-old Michaela and 17-year Hayley.
Joshua Komisarjevsky WFSB-TV/Connecticut State Police

(CBS/AP) NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Joshua Komisarjevsky, a paroled burglar charged in the brutal Connecticut home invasion that left a woman and her two daughters dead, initially told investigators that he may have poured gasoline before the house was set on fire, a police detective testified Monday.

Detective Joseph Vitello's testimony undercut efforts by Komisarjevsky's lawyers to blame his co-defendant, Steven Hayes, for pouring the gas. Hayes was convicted last year and is on death row.

Authorities say Komisarjevsky and Hayes broke into the house in Cheshire in July 2007, beat Dr. William Petit with a bat, then tied up him, his wife and two daughters as they looked for money. Hayes later drove the woman, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, to a bank so she could make a withdrawal and then raped and strangled her after they returned to the house, police said.

The girls, 11-year-old Michaela and 17-year-old Hayley, died of smoke inhalation in the gasoline-fueled fire.

Komisarjevsky and Hayes have blamed each other for escalating the violence, but prosecutors say both men are equally responsible.

Vitello also told jurors Monday that Komisarjevsky took explicit cell phone photos of Michaela Petit, whom he has admitted molesting. Komisarjevsky planned to send the photos to Hayes so that he could show them to the girl's mother if she didn't cooperate while the two were outside the home.

Komisarjevsky gave an audiotaped confession that was played to jurors last week. In it, he said he spotted Michaela and her mother at a supermarket, followed them home and later returned with Hayes.

Prosecutors showed photos taken by a video camera of Hawke-Petit and Michaela at the supermarket shopping for what turned out to be the family's last meal together. Michaela appears to be looking back at her mother in one photo. In another, taken in the produce section, she has an item up to her face that she apparently is eating or smelling.

Prosecutors also showed photos from the video camera of two men near an ATM. They're expected to argue that one of the men is Komisarjevsky.

Komisarjevsky's attorneys tried to show the jury he immediately cooperated with police by telling them two girls were in the house engulfed in fire, while Hayes offered no help.

But Vitello said Komisarjevsky was quick to implicate Hayes, while not revealing some details of his own role.

Complete coverage of the Petit family murders on Crimesider

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