Sep 30, 2011

Extremely upsetting fire marshal testimony at Petit family home invasion

Hayley Petit's fire scorched Bedroom
Today's fire Marshal testimony in the trial of Joshua Komisarjevsky was substantially more descriptive than last year's counterpart within accomplice - Steven Hayes' trial.

Steven Hayes was found guilty of all charges, with the exception of one, and ultimately sentenced to death after five days of deliberations approximately one year ago.

In today's Fire Marshall testimony more disturbing new details emerged about the fire including specific information about the way that the gasoline was poured upon seventeen year old Hayley Petit:

 The Marshal described in vivid detail  "arc like motions" that the gasoline had been tossed across the vibrant young girl's body and bed linens, drenching them, then pouring a gasoline path out of  Hayley's bedroom, down the hall.
into her sister Michaela's room and onto her bed her body, where she was found in the still smoldering home deceased with her arms still tied above her head to her bed, her legs on the ground . There was significantly less gas used in Michaela's room because allegedly the men ran out of gas at that point.
Joann Petit Chapman ran out of the courtroom in tears.

I am not a family member and yet I  have spent many many sleepless nights thinking about that fire, both girls and Hayley  the strong courageous Hayley and the fact that she had supposedly gotten free of her binds and made it to the top of the stairs, only to be overcome by fire and smoke and collapse.

It made sense that Hayley would be the one to get loose, she was a star athlete, a rower, basketball player and a tall strong girl. But something always troubled me about this theory and I wrote about it on this very Blog following the Fire Marshall's testimony last year. I recall the article wound up published on the Petit Family Foundation Twitter site. Fire Marshal testimony Hayes Trial

I had immediately thought about a story that I'd read some years back about a college freshman at Columbia who was living off campus in a small apartment when it was broken into by a predator. He severely  tortured and sexually assaulted this poor young woman all night. The tortures were atrocious.

In the morning, he tied her to her bed and lit the bed on fire, running out of the apartment as the bed went ablaze. The young lady somehow managed to stay calm enough to use the fire to burn through her restraints and stumbled through the fire to safety, suffering only relatively minor burns.

However,  her injuries from the sadistic rapist would be murderer were more extensive and life lasting. He had done sadistic things to her and seemed to delight in her pain. A total sexual sadist. The girls courage and ability to think during such immense stress had amazed and saddened me at the same time.
I couldn't help but wonder as I lay awake at night, if this is what happened to Hayley.

Did her ties burn off rather than her wresting them loose. Was she running on fire literally jumping off of her flame - consumed bed, and having nowhere to run, ran into the fire, carefully laid out by these sadist's strategically poured gas patterns? It seems too much to bear, but we owed it to Hayley to figure out the truth about what had happened to her. The victims experiences are the embodiment of an violent crime. This was must do not as voyeurs but as pained compassionate witnesses after the fact. This is their truth and they deserve it not to be swept under the rug, because it is unpleasant.

The Petit girls and their mom are no longer with us and we must uncover these truths as they are as important as the punishment meted out to their murderers. As well these two things are inexorably linked.

As a victim and survivor of violent crime, I can attest to the importance of  the truth, Truth is the starting point, and the nucleus of all Justice. Without truth there cannot be Justice.

Today, the theory of the bonds burning through was strongly suggested, as opposed to the Hayes trial, where the testimony regarding this same fire was less expansive and detailed, and the corresponding forensic findings that were proffered by the fire Marshal seemed to have been more deeply analyzed.

Perhaps having had more time, experts were able to pour over the investigation and every issue related to the fire more carefully, with a fine tooth comb if you will. For whatever the reason I was
simply pleased as I was left feeling that much more could have been covered by the state regarding the fire as well as some other key evidence during the Steven Hayes trial.

The fire was after all,  the murder weapon, a cowardly and sadistic way to kill Hayley and Michaela Petit, as well as attempting to destroy DNA evidence of all of the sexual assaults.This particular day's testimony took a lot out of everyone - the Petit's the Hawkes and all of their extended family and friends. Indeed everyone who has become privy to the details of these crimes has been traumatized and grief stricken to one degree or another. It shows how far reaching one such violent crime can be and how much harm is done to society as a result.