Sister of Joshua Komisarjevsky, convicted killer in Conn. home invasion, says he sexually abused her

Joshua Komisarjevsky
Joshua Komisarjevsky

(CBS/AP) NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The sister of Joshua Komisarjevsky, one of two men convicted in the killing of a woman and her two daughters during a brutal Conn. home invasion, told a jury Monday he sexually abused her as a child for years. She also said her brother wasn't a violent person and wouldn't intentionally kill.

Pictures: Petit family Murders

Komisarjevsky's sister testified in the sentencing phase of his trial in New Haven Superior Court. Komisarjevsky was convicted of killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela, in their Cheshire home in 2007. Komisarjevsky was also convicted of sexually assaulting Michaela. The same jury that convicted him is now deciding if he should get the death penalty.

Komisarjevsky's sister said the abuse began when she was about seven years old and happened "quite often" before it ended when she was nine or 10. She said her brother admitted to the abuse, which didn't involve sexual intercourse.

The defense says Komisarjevsky's religious family didn't get him the proper psychological treatment. His attorneys say he was sexually abused by a foster teen the family took into their home and later as a teen by someone else. Prosecutors say those claims come from Komisarjevsky and emerged years later when he faced prison time for 19 nighttime residential burglaries.

The testimony by Komisarjevsky's sister largely mirrors defense arguments that Komisarjevsky didn't intend to kill anyone. But prosecutors say Komisarjevsky was the mastermind and that it took both men to carry out the crime.

Komisarjevsky's sister and aunt testified that he was very caring toward his nine-year-old daughter and had won custody of her from her drug-addicted mother.

"He was very loving," his sister said. "He always loved children. She would giggle when she was on his lap. He wanted to make sure she was protected and safe."

Komisarjevsky's aunt Karlie Lebatique testified Monday that her nephew should be spared the death penalty.

"Because Josh, ever since he was in the womb, has been rejected, attacked, abused, doubted, every step of the way by people that were supposed to love him the most and take care of him the most," she said in response to a question about why Komisarjevsky should not be sentenced to death.

Prosecutor Gary Nicholson reminded Lebatique of details of the crime

His aunt blamed Hayes for the killings and said of her nephew: "I don't believe he killed anyone."

Komisarjevsky's mother testified earlier Monday that her son left the house late the night of the crime and she feared he was up to no good because he was wearing a hooded sweatshirt he used in the past to commit burglaries. When she heard a family had died in a fire nearby, she feared her son could have been involved.

Complete coverage of the Petit family murders on Crimesider