Jul 3, 2011

Murder trial jurors can be overwhelmed, traumatized

A decent article from CNN regarding an important syndrome that I wrote about back in June(-check archives link on right) Its about a type of "second hand "trauma if you will, that both Jurors on violent crime/murder cases experience, as well as ordinary members of the community and society at large.

 Anyone who has become privy to the details of a violent crime, be it murder, multiple murders, rapes and even bad assaults, are finally being recognized as subject to a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that can be almost as severe and life affecting as it is for a surviving victim, witness, family members, friends schoolmates neighbors or anyone at all that has become privy to even the most basic of details re the violence involved.

We tend to only think about these things when there are prominent murder cases that are splashed all over the mainstream media, such as the Petit murders, and the Caylee Anthony murder, both of which have garnered a great deal of media hype-although thankfully for the Petit's, which happened here in Connecticut, has not quite reached the insane media frenzy as the Casey case.

 In September this will change a bit as the  the mastermind of the Petit murders and rapes Joshua komisarjevsky, will finally be tried, nearly five years after the brutal burning murders of Hayley and Michaela Petit, the strangulation of mom Jennifer Petit and the baseball bat assault on lone survivor William Petit's head (komisarjevsky struck him admittedly 6-10 times in the head)  This, after seeing the sole male of the house sleeping thru the sun porch window as he skulked the outsides of the property with Hayes---he broke in via a locked basement door, beckoning Hayes to wait outside until he let him in through a door,proceeded to stealthily climb the basement steps-he had checked out the basic layout of the home earlier that evening after following Michaela and her mother home from the Stop and Shop where he'd initially targeted the pair) And Joshua Komisarjevsky stood over the slumbering man at 3 am July 23rd 2007 and proceeded to bash him in the head quote "as hard as I could, as if chopping wood"

Steven Hayes, according to komisarjevsky, stood outside smiling, seemingly egging him on. For his part, Steven Hayes claimed he was quote shocked when he watched how vicious komisarjevskys baseball bat assault  upon the sleeping mans head who did nothing whatsoever to resist and it appears that that assault set the tone for the rest of the crimes to come;

The truth regarding those few minutes will never be known, but what we do know is the assault upon Petit was beyond overkill and utterly unnecessary in order to simply render Dr Petit a non threat. The men toted a 9 mm lookalike gun which Petit and the girls all likely believed was real. It was in fact a pellet handgun designed to look ominous yet was far cheaper and easier to procure for the men-Hayes bought it at walmart that very evening at komisarjevskys request.

Like myself when assaulted with multiple blows to the head,, Dr Petit lost all sense of bearing, partial consciousness, suffered severe vertigo where the room seems to be spinning and severe nausea from his damaged brain and vestibular system-inner ears and balance portion of the brain.

 He was in shock from brain trauma and bleeding which took place both within his brain and from the lacerations made by the repeated blows of a Louisville slugger that he'd grabbed from the petits basement.  Petit who was on coumadin, a blood thinner to prevent strokes, should have by all accounts died.

The fact that as komisarjevsky opened the door to let Hayes in and then tied Dr Petit hands and feet with zip ties slipping on Petits blood in the process brings such a vivid image to my mind and heart as it certainly did for anyone reading or hearing about it....this is but a tiny parcel of the brutality that this man Joshua komisarjevsky not only planned but was responsible for heightening every step of the way throughout the evening of terror and carnage and he did for one reason; power and control over a sleeping vulnerable family that lived lives of modest goodness and indeed were healers and philanthropists and aspiring healers-Hayley was plann9ng on becoming a Doctor like her dad and was to attend Dartmouth in the fall.

Komisarjevsky is the second of two accomplices tried for the sexual assaults,  murders, kidnappings and grand larceny, money that komisarjevsky wanted to bring his teenage girlfriend back from out of state where her parents had wisely moved her-away from the career felon who was just released on early parole having had his ankle bracelet removed 2 days before targeting Michael and Jennifer Petit while they shopped at an area supermarket. Komisarjevsky admitted to being attracted to the 11 year old Michael and used Mrs Petits blonde attractive appearance to guarantee the help of Steven Hayes a man who was the approximate age of Mrs Petit whereby komisarejsvky only 28 at the time had a long history of attraction to teenage girls.


Forensic evidence entered during the Hayes trial  proved that 17 year old Hayley Petit, who was not at the Stop and shop when komisarjevsky targeted Michaela and her mom (  added motivation for Hayes who shared komiarjevsky's fantasies of control rape and domination) Hayely was tied to her bed throughout the entire evening and morning hours of the crimes, she was also at least sexually molested during the ordeal by at least komisarjevsky, although he only confessed to "molesting": Michaela, close up cellphone photos of a nude, tied up and splayed Hayley Petit were found on  komisarjevsky's cellphone among many others of 11 year old Michaela Petit dressed up in various outfits, including a schoolgirl plaid skirt and white collared shirt (typical pedophilia Fetishism and other photos he took depicting Michaela nude and  in various stages of undress. These photos were mostly time stamped during the hours approx 7 am when Hayes is believed to have been sent by komisarjevsky to an out of town gas station to fill multiple containers from the Petit garage, with gasoline clearly preparing for the burning down of the Petit house in order to destroy DNA evidence of the rapes and murder by arson of all of the witnesses to thier barbaric rampage of crime.

Hayley's photos were time stamped at approximately 9 am, a time when police believe Hayes had just left for the Bank with Mrs Petit, again the sidekick doing the dirty work-he was caught on video cameras, while komisarjevsky ever the manipulative sociopath,  basically ran amok, through the house, fully raping Michaela-  forensics in the Hayes trial proved that despite komisarjevskys false claims of only ejaculating on Michaela as she lay tied up and naked on her bed, he had indeed sodomized the girl just minutes before dousing her in gasoline, pouring a trail to her sister Hayley, tied to her bed as well and down the steps to a now deceased via strangulation  Mrs Petit, whom Hayes raped the very moment he stepped into the house with her back from her bank once both men tied her down including a noose around her neck as she screamed begging for her life. She had just fully complied with the men's request and withdrawn 15,000 dollars which shed handed over to Hayes as soon as she entered the car outside the bank.

I attended parts of the Steven Hayes trial; it was very difficult to get in due to limited media seats of 25 total in the New Haven Connecticut courthouse but I managed to attend 4 days of testimony and evidence along with all many members of the local and national media,the familys of the Petits and Hawkes etc, the Jurors, Judge, and a grouping of other attendees who all seemed very emotionally invested in this case - it hit home for thousands of people within this state alone.

We all listened to graphic descriptions of the many lewd photos on Mr Komisarjevsky's cellphone; photos of innocent little 11 year old Michaela tied up and raped amongst her stuffed animals, after having been quietly  molested fondled and made to change into various outfits while this sleazeball snapped photos on his cellphone. This all took place while her mother lay tied in a separate room, I believe Jennifer Petit was not aware that this boyish looking young man)who was himself a native of Cheshire) was after her 11 year old, certainly I believe she dint know that he was molesting Michaela one floor above her where she herself was tied much of the night and morning hours waitng for the Bank to open.

It stands to reason from the statements of both men, pieces of komisarjevsky's interviews with Writer Brian Mcdonald who has since said that hed realized hed been totally duped by the soft spoken boyish looking young man hed corresponded with and met with in prison several times for purposes of writing a tell all book about "what really happened the night of the murders"   After listening to the Hayes trial he realized that hed been used by a classic sociopathic manipulator whod been trying to basically feed a self serving version of the rapes and murders whereby naturally steven Hayes was responsible for all of the really bad stuff ie such as the capital crimes which are what will land komisarjevsky on Death row when the truth comes out.
In fact Mcdonald was quoted as saying that Komisarjevsky was the most manipulative person hed ever met and this was a guy who wrote true crime novels!

In any case as I said  I believe that Jennifer Petit was unaware of komisarjevskys molestations of Michaela and certainly his obscene photo taking of her.  I am certain that she was more worried about her 17 year old daughter Hayley, which in a normal male mind would be the obvious target of someone planning on sexual assault--not a pubescent child who was so innocent that she was actually sleeping with her mother when the men first creepy crawled up the stairs and with the fake gun in one of thier hands tied up Mrs Petit alone and  led little michaela off to her own bedroom a floor above to be tied up sepearately.

No Josh Komisarjevsky B.S d Mrs Petit right offf the bat, indeed likely forming some kind of near stokhom type syndrome with the naive and notoriously kind Mrs Petit. Komisarjevsky later told macdonald he liked Jen Petit and said "I never should have talked with her, that was the mistake----implying that hed feel no remorse whatsoever had she not been so kind and willing to give him the money he wanted and told her he needed. No matter what this man said, I do not believe for a moment that he has a shred of guit or shame or conscience for in effect creating this evening of brutality, and murder and the lifetime of trauma that all of us are left with.

 Komisarjevsky, the consumate sociopath, and decidedly the in-charge guy with this set of crimes, spent much time pacifying the innocent and kindhearted Jennifer Petit who I'm certain believed this young man who after all unlike his accomplice Hayes did not appear or sound menacing, he assured Mrs Petit over and over, that the men just wanted money, that her husband was unhurt and simply tied up in the cellar, where he could not interfere; he made certain to keep Hayes who was likely chomping at the bit from raping Mrs Petit..... until the last piece of the crime-the 15,0000 that (either Mrs Petit offered in exchange for her girls being left alone ie not raped- and safe and alive along with her husband.

Komisarjevsky knew that if he allowed Jennifer petit to see the blood pool on the sun porch where he had bashed her sleeping husbands head in, he'd probably never get her compliance as she would become fully aware of his potential for violence and would run the minute she got into that bank.

As well, if he went ahead and fully raped 11 year old Michaela whilst in earshot of Jennifer Petit, he would lose all credibility with her in the same fashion, instead he stealthily went about molesting Michaela with a pillowcase over the girls face for the most part (photos depicted this)  He made certain Mrs Petit viewed him simply as a desperate for money, non violent thief, who just wanted jewelry valuable and money- and who would leave her home and family as promised, as soon as the bank opened and she accompanied his accomplice the older larger more imposing looking Steven Hayes, to withdraw the "goodwill" money.

These and other details such as the fact that Hayley managed to break Free of her binds several times and actually tried to call 911 on her cellphone before komisarjevsky had to call Hayes in the help him hold her down and tie her back up, the fact that Hayley's body was found face down burnt at the top of the family stairs, showing shed had gasoline poured so liberally upon her bed and clothing that her ties likely burnt from the heat and she ran aflame straight into the path of the poured gasoline fueled fire.

These these are what make this set of crimes that much more brutal and thus traumatic and heart breaking for anyone who hears even the scantest of details about it.   And Joshua komisarjevskys actions and involvement in these crimes including but not limited to his planning and executing of the crimes apart from many other similar home invasion murders. He orchestrated via manipulation control and deceit the rapes and slaughter of three wonderful people-two children and one adult women who like her husband whom he also fully intended on burning to death in the fire, was a healer, a pediatric nurse who suffered from Multiple Sclerosis, yet amazingly still found the strength to become one of The Connecticut Chapter of MS's strongest, most devoted, avid fundraisers and event participants as were her daughters Hayley and Michaela.

Hearing the details of these crimes when they happened in July 2007s broke my heart. As I learned more I became more and more upset and utterly preoccupied with the fact that our Connecticut Parole board had atypically let both of these men out on early release parole despite histories amounting to over 55 felony convictions between them!  Its bad enough when any violent crime happens, but when learning that this particularly horrific and cruel hours long kidnapping sexual assault and murder by burning to death, shouldn't have ever been allowed to happen had our state legislators judicial committee members and parole board-done their jobs-the Petit family would be alive and likely the happy productive and kind people that they were when alive.

Practically all of the state of Connecticut have been touched by these women's murders and by the losses suffered by Dr Petit (who no longer practices due to his head/brain injuries, as well as the grief and Post traumatic stress of losing his entire family in such an unbelievably cruel fashion)

And many many people outside of this state have written to the Petit's and their extended family's about how badly these crimes have tormented their thoughts and broken their hearts. I myself have imagined what each one of these girls went through on the morning of their torture and murders a thousand times over.

Just as things settled the littlest bit, we were all re-traumatized when Joshua komisarjevskys supposedly tell all paperback came out,  with a self serving autobiographical version of the entire evening and morning events leading up to and culminating in the murders of Michaela Hayley and Jen Petit the arson of their home and the abduction of komisarjevsky and Hayes as they ran from the burning Petit house laughing according to police testimony jumping into one of the Petits family cars and running it straight into two police cruisers that had set up a road block after being called by the manager of the bank where Jennifer petit had managed to whisper to a teller that she needed the money for a ransom as her family was being held hostage and if the police were not called no one would get hurt"

This, like everything else promised to Jennifer Petit by Joshua komisarjevsky, was a purposeful lie, designed to garner her cooperation and hopefully ensure that she would be reluctant to run away at the bank or call police, as first of all she believed komisarjevsky's promise not to hurt anyone because shed not seen the violence hed committed upon her husband nor her daughters and her rape had not yet occurred.

As Hayes took her to the bank to withdraw the money, Komisarjevsky remained at home with her family tied up and with what she believed was a 9 mm handgun, which in actuality was the 9mm lookalike pellet gun that komisarjevsky had given Steven Hayes the money to buy the very day he'd spotted and followed home eleven Year old Michaela and her mom after theyd shopped for their Sunday dinner, a dinner which Michaela, an aspiring vegetarian chef cooked for her family for the very last time in her young innocent life.