A new group of prospective jurors are scheduled to appear in New Haven Superior Court on Monday to start the second week of jury selection for the trial of Cheshire home invasion defendant Joshua Komisarjevsky.
One juror was chosen last week from the first group of 40, a doctor employed by the Yale School of Medicine.
Defense lawyers and prosecutors may also learn from Judge Jon C. Blue when arguments will be heard on a defense motion to sentence Komisarjevsky, 30, to life without possibility of release, sparing him from the death penalty, in return for a guilty plea. Judge Blue said another judge would hear the motion.
State’s Attorney Michael Dearington and Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Gary W. Nicholson filed a brief Friday opposing the motion. They said the state intends to seek the death penalty.
The motion, filed on March 11, quoted Komisarjevsky’s statement to police that his co-defendant, Steven Hayes, 47, strangled Cheshire mother Jennifer Hawke-Petit and started the fire that killed her two daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, in 2007.
Hayes was found guilty in a separate trial in 2010 and was sentence to be executed. He is now on death row.
During his trial, he blamed Komisarjevsky for starting the fire.
Komisarjevsky is represented by attorneys Jeremiah Donovan, Todd A. Bussert and Walter Bansley.
He is charged with 17 counts including capital felony murder, kidnapping, arson, larceny, burglary, assault and sexual assault.
The charges also include the beating and kidnapping of Dr. William Petit Jr., the victims’ husband and father, who escaped to a neighbor’s house as the fire was ignited.
Jury selection for Komisarjevsky’s trial began on March 15. Three prospective jurors were excused because they knew someone participating in the trial, 18 because the lengthy trial would pose a financial hardship for them, and 16 who admitted they had formed strong opinions about the case and could not be impartial.
Three others were dismissed with peremptory challenges, two by the defense and one by the prosecution. Each side gets a total of 40 peremptory challenges, which they can use to reject a juror without having to say why.
Judge Blue said the court must select 12 jurors, six alternates and three standby alternates. He said the trial is scheduled to start on Sept. 19 and could take three months if a guilty verdict leads to a two-month penalty phase.
An article in the New Haven Register last week said the defense of the two defendants had already cost about $2.25 million. That includes their lawyers’ fees and the cost of transporting them to court with a state police escort.
The one juror selected said he heard of the case from news reports, but he had not followed the case much and had not formed an opinion.
Questioning of prospective jurors last week focused on whether they could decide the case based on the evidence and follow the judge’s instructions on the law.
The Register also reported that Komisarjevsky’s mother attended the jury selection on Thursday, sitting in the front row of the spectator’s section on the defense side of the courtroom.
Komisarjevsky came to court with a short haircut, dressed in a white shirt and tie. One published report said his appearance was so changed that State’s Attorney Dearington did not recognize him, but that was incorrect.
When Dearington asked who was seated at the defense table, defense lawyers introduced their two jury selection consultants.