Conn. home invasion defendant criticizes survivor

A Connecticut man charged with killing a woman and her two daughters in a 2007 home invasion called the girls' father a coward for not saving his family, prompting the victim to call the defendant a sociopath and a pathological liar.

On Tuesday, attorneys for Steven Hayes, who has been convicted of the killings, introduced writings by co-defendant Joshua Komisarjevsky (koh-mih-sar-JEV'-skee), who's awaiting trial. A New Haven jury is considering whether to give Hayes the death penalty.

Komisarjevsky wrote that Dr. William Petit ran away and let his children die. Petit testified earlier that Komisarjevsky beat him with a baseball bat and tied him up in his basement. He escaped to a neighbor's for help.

Petit said after court he didn't "want to dignify the ravings of a sociopath who appears to be a pathological liar as well."

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Lawyers trying to spare their client the death penalty for killing a woman and her two daughters during a home invasion showed jurors writings in which his co-defendant asked for forgiveness and said his own execution would be "a state-sanctioned murder of mercy."

Steven Hayes' attorneys introduced the words of Joshua Komisarjevsky, who is still awaiting trial, in an attempt to show Komisarjevsky masterminded the 2007 break-in that led to the killings of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela, at their Cheshire home in 2007.

Komisarjevsky's writings, however, also blame Hayes for escalating the violence by strangling Hawke-Petit. The girls died in a fire that prosecutors say both men set.

Komisarjevsky described the bloody beating of the victims' husband and father, Dr. William Petit, who survived, saying that act let loose "my dark shadow."

"I've been playing Russian roulette most of my life. This time I pulled the trigger and the chamber was loaded," Komisarjevsky wrote.

He asked forgiveness from the victims.

"My anticipated death sentence will be a state sanctioned murder of mercy," he wrote.

Prosecutors said the writings are full of fantasies and that both men were equally responsible.

Earlier Tuesday, the defense lawyers introduced a letter Komisarjevsky wrote to the author of a book about the crime. In it, Komisarjevsky described the thrill of breaking into homes as people slept, the same scenario prosecutors say unfolded in the Connecticut case.

"The risks are extremely high and the method is brazen," Komisarjevsky wrote. "But hey, my life is defined by risk."

In the letter, Komisarjevsky described how he wore night-vision goggles and would turn off the electricity in houses so that residents would be in the dark and he could see if they awoke. He said he preferred to break in around 1 a.m. when most people are in their third cycle of sleep.

Komisarjevsky said he would wait in the basement of homes, listening as residents walked above him, set their thermostats and burglar alarms and checked to make sure motion lights were on — "all the rituals of white folks from suburbia" while he was already in the house.

He also said he would memorize the unique sounds of each house, carefully balancing his weight on squeaky stairs, and taking care not to move too quickly.

"You walk and move like you belong," he wrote.

He said he sometimes would break into a home, get the keys and leave without a trace. The next day he would return and then simply unlock the front door, he said.

The letter is full of bravado. In it, Komisarjevsky writes of gaining entry through skylights and making escapes through storm drains and claims he was hired by businesses and others to steal everything from kitchen appliances to legal files.