Sep 5, 2011

Antagonistic tactics by Komisarjevsky Defense

Michaela and Hayley Petit

"This is something Jerry became a lawyer to do: Jerry is looking for the challenge...”

"The defense strategy is markedly different from the gentlemanly tack of Mr. Hayes’s lawyers. Thomas J. Ullmann, his chief lawyer, said the change was necessary. “You’d be a fool to adopt the same strategy that we had,” Mr. Ullmann said, “because it was a failed strategy.”

 Let's start by addressing the preceding statement culled from the linked article in this week's New York Times: Attorney Ullmann, head public defender for Steven Hayes, the first of the two men tried for the Petit family murders, most certainly did not employ a "gentlemanly tack"  nor"strategy"  throughout the majority of his dealings with this murder case.

 He did however soften his "tack" considerably, once the jury entered his sphere, and this was largely dictated by overwhelming evidence and the fact that his client was a completely different breed than Donovan's Komisarjevsky, a Sociopath of epic proportion. Although a rapist and a murderer,  Hayes resides several rungs down on the predatorial ladder.

Steven Hayes tried to suddenly change his plea to guilty within a hearing a few months before his trial began. Ullmann and co-counsel set about aggresively talking him out of it, even threatening to break client/attorney priveledge if need be in order to keep their client from committting "state assisted suicide" They wore Hayes down, they bullied him into not taking responsibility for his part in the kidnapping, rapes and murders. Somewhere around this time, Hayes tried to overdose on a handful of anti-anxiety pills that he'd been stockpiling. He was whisked off to the hospital and survived. The trial was delayed as a result.

We will concede much, but not all"

Thomas Ullmann in his opening statement during the Hayes trial.

Due to the tenuous position that he was in, the Thomas Ullmann at Hayes's trial where the media was present in spades, was a man trying to walk a tightrope.  If he became too aggressive, as he had during pre trial hearings and media interactions, he would surely alienate the Jury. As it was, his client was unpredictable, reluctantly allowing Ullmann to keep his plea technically " not guilty" but for the most part admitting to most of the criminal culpability that he was charged with. I believed that Ullmann knew his client would be found guilty, but was saving his efforts for the sentencing phase of the trial where he believed he had a chance at procuring him a life sentence instead of the sought after death penalty.

"It was a compromise that  Attorney Ullmann was clearly not used to, nor comfortable with, but it was obviously dictated by his client and his glaring guilt, not Ullmanns personal style nor preference, especially considering his well known criticism of the death penalty, a punishment that his client stated over and over that he deserved and wanted.

Long before the the Hayes trial was even scheduled, shortly after the murders, I immediately noticed Attorney Ullmann as particularly pugnacious and aggressive - None of his hostility was neccesary, nor did the situation demand it. I found his growing antagonism towards victim William Petit and his beleagured family obscene especially considering the somberness surrounding these crimes; triple murder, child rape and attempted famicide.

Ullmann bitterly complained about everything, the beefed up security for he and his client at court appearences, citing the unneccesariness of it and the fact that the state was going to such lengths to protect them, only to kill him"  The reason for this security was to protect the defendents from possible vigilantism. During the arraignment several attendees shouted angrily at the two men. People were removed by Marshalls, tensions were very high.

And it was no wonder; The details just got worse and worse  ;A mother raped and murdered within earshot of her daughters, who were tied to their beds helpless, having been sexually assaulted and molested as well. Photos from Komisarjevskys cell phone left a despicable trail of evidence of the assaults of 11 year old Michaela, clearly the focus of his pedophilia predation.

It was Michaela who he spotted in the Stop and shop that day. Steven Hayes had admitted to police raping Mrs Petit after both men jumped on her and tied her up, seconds upon her return to her house, bearing the 15,000,00 from the bank that was to be a pay-off for her familys safe return.

Hayes claimed that at this point komisarjevsky ordered him" to get rid of her". The plan was already made to kill the entire family. Too many witnesses and too much possibility for DNA and other physcial evidence; They had purchased gasoline at 6 AM that morning with Komisrajevsky sending Hayes out of town to buy gas at a station where Police would be less likely to investigate gas purchases, after the Petit house was burned down and the family discovered murdered inside.

The head of the household and only survivor, William Petit, was repeatedely beaten in the head with a wooden bat by Joshua komisarjevsky as he slept in his sunroom, on that late summers evening, his skull, brain and balance system damaged, along with his psyche, his soul, and likely his entire sense of social justice.

His once brilliant  career as a talented healer in the endocrinology field was abandoned after the crimes, partly due to the severity of his injuries, as well the emotional trauma from the loss of his wife and children and the nightmare that he himself lived through.

The only reason that William Petit Jr. survived is because the two men, recently paroled repeat felons, had their attentions fixed upon the females in the house; Michaela and Jennifer Petit were the original targets and the main motive for the entire nights carnage, despite the lawyers and Komisarjevsky's much more innocuous claim that this was simply a robbery or home invasion gone terribly wrong" with each man pointing his finger at the other for escalating the crimes to murder.

Dr Petit was "neutralized" right away upon the men's entry to his home, Joshua  Komsarjevsky who had jimmied a failing bulkhead lock and gained access into the home, leaving Hayes outside to be let in through a door after very nearly killed the man, swinging a baseball bat 7-10 times "as hard as I could as if chopping wood" (interview with Brian MacDonald.)

Mr. Petit, who had sustained severe blood loss and was drifting in and out of consciousness, left tied to a pole in his Cellar, suddenly heard loud thumping sounds from above and muffled moaning; he tried to yell at the men, but his voice was weak, he managed " Hey! " or something to the effect.

Joshua Komisrajevsky, the one who had been the one doing " all the talking" quickly answered " don't worry.. it will all be over soon"  The voice that had been reassuring earlier, dropped all pretense and now, had a sinister tone, one that signaled impending violence to Petit who thought that the men who he believed were armed(it was in fact a 9 mm lokalike pellet gun) might be getting ready to shoot his family.

He knew he was no match for two men with a gun, with his feet tied, no weapon and extremely weak from 7 pints of blood loss. He mustered an impossible adrenalin push that enabled him to break his zip-tied hands and crawl up the bulkhead steps his feet still bound together crawling then rolling to a neighbors garage yelling to call 911. This was his familys only hope.

The men quickly became aware of Dr Petit's escape from the basement but nonetheless were preparing for the murders of his two daughters. They were dousing Mrs Petit's now lifeless body with gasoline and leading a trail of gas straight to each girls bedroom being sure to splash their bed linens and clothing, they wanted to be certain to destroy any DNA evidence that they left behind.

Now, after re-living this heartbreaking terror, lets look at Attorney Donovan's latest attempts to slander the family of these victims.

Within this very article Donovan refers to "The Petit Posse"

As much as I am reluctant to repeat, let alone remark upon this shameless comment made by a man who is so obviously trying to bring attention to himself  via the torture and murder of a mother and her two children, I am strongly compelled to relay my observations regarding this man.

Donovan, who began his charge of this case posturing as the empathetic, sensitive attorney, citing that "he too had a beloved wife and daughters, but would give Joshua his all as he was entitled to a fair defense....."
 has been adapting a more and more antagonistic "tack" towards the victim and his family as the trial for his client nears.

He has done his best to try to wear down the family, the prosecutor, the judge, and the system through an overt abuse of legal motions, to call them a flurry would be a gross understatement. The motions have been a combination of attempts to overwhelm the family, the Judge, the court sending the message that there is more unpleasentry to come (at trial)  hoping to procure a plea bargain in exchange for life in prison rather than a looming death sentence for Joshau Komsiarjevsky. I have read every single motion, and within them there are perhaps a handful that are the genuine article-meaning there is any substance whatsoever contained within.

To call these beleaguered family " a posse" is ludicrous. One need only watch the Petit and their extended family in court to see that they are the antithesis of  posse-like. They carry themselves with an almost beautific sense of humility and decency about them, including survivor William Petit Jr.
 He has spent his time recovering from the violent loss of his family, and his own substantial injuries, running what has grown into a successful charity, founded in the spirit of his lost wife and two daughters, all civic minded and most importantly exceptionally kind and caring human beings.

Petit  has consistently turned down thousands of interviews etc with the media and the press.he and his family long abided a gag order placed on this murder case in 2007, an order that it turned out they were not even beholden by. The gag  order applied to all police personnel, prosecutors, attorneys, defendants and other assorted court workers, judges, etc that  were privy to details of this case. but not the victim's family members.

The Petits could have shouted from the rooftops from the start all of the awful details that they had been informed about the crimes  who did what and who admitted to doing what quite early in the case.Plenty of family members of murdered victims have done just that.They did not.  instead they showed enormous restraint, they did not vent hatred and animosity at the two men who were literally caught fleeing the murder scene in the Petit's family car.

The details regarding what had been done to their beloved family members came out slowly from the forensic findings, as well as confessions and other evidence, such as komisarjevsky's cell phone photos.
The Petits remained mum about these things despite the holes in their minds and hearts that this disturbing and maddening information left in them.

Just as the trauma of the crimes began to abate the smallest bit, scars begginning to form, the Petit and extended family's received yet another emotional insult; Joshua Komisarjevsky, one of the most infamous solitary confined prisoners in the Connecticut Department of Corrections had been engaged in a correspondence and surreptitious jailhouse interviews with writer Brian MacDonald, in order to tell his "version" of the crimes to be published in a book slated for immediate release.

Creating shock and re-traumatization for everyone who had been so deeply affected by these crimes, this grotesque book, fueled by Komisarjevsky's claims and inner musements, was published, distributed and even made its way onto the shelves of the Cheshire Public library.

Despite multiple town meetings with hundreds of citizens voicing their dissent and disgust, the director of the library would not budge, touting " first amendment rights"and stating that even Komisarjevsky who was incidently a Cheshire resident, had a right to free speech.

It seemed nightmarish; the library most certainly did not stock every book ever written especially considering the details about a minor child's sexual assault; This was far from a historical perspective on a local crime.
It was yet another tool in Joshua Komisarjevsky's criminal toolkit. along with his night vision goggles, plastic gloves and knife.

Fortunately, the truth has a way of breaking loose; the writer of the hastily- written paperback, soon came to see that Joshua komisarjevsky had manipulated and decieved him. Forensic evidence from the Hayes trial discredited Komisarjevsky's  claims re sexually assaulting an 11 year old Michaela Petit. As well it became very clear that this "Book" although peppered with incidents that did happen, in the end gave nothing new away as these revelations were already known to authorities via physical evidence or Komisarjevsky's elaborate statement to Police.

Shopping his point of view all around town" 

We can presume that Donovan was referring to the fact that very quietly William Petit met with two senators several months ago when another bill to abolish the death penalty quite suddenly reared its head once again from the states judiciary committee who just didn't seem to care what the residents of Connecticut wanted.. IE most recent state-wide Quinnipiac poll  2010 showed that 78 percent of the state was in favor of the Death Penalty as Capital punishment for the very worst of the States murder cases that fit the aggravating factor

Bill Petit doesn't pontificate, he is a quiet man, dignified, thoughtful, with nary a trace of hatefulness in his countenance or his carriage; it seems that he simply sat down, one human being to another, political parties completely inconsequential as they should be in matters of life and death) explaining what he had lived through what his family had endured, the many indignities a victim or family members of murder victims within the court processes, and a few other key things.  I am sure he chose to speak one on one rather than addressing a legislative audience for good reason, its easier to speak one on one than address a whole legislature

 However before his client changed his plea, he did proclaim that he and his co-counsel would do anything including breaking client- attorney privileges, in order to save their client from " committing state assisted suicide" or as we know it taking responsibility for crimes that you have committed.

Ullmann needn't have worried, as it tnrns out, our Connecticut laws prohibited Mr Hayes from pleading guilty at that particular juncture in the process; it simply was not allowed, but Ullmann used the time to talk his client into keeping his plea not guilty, although these were just words they were a farce, as both attorneys had offered pleas of guilty in exchange for life sentences early in the process. This is a clear admission of guilt.

In the end, Thomas Ullmann and Jeremiah Donovan, like their client's Steven Hayes and Joshua komisrarjevsky would seem to be two different versions of the same monster; They both have sunk to similar depths in an attempt to "win"

And this is far from the first time Mr Donovan has crossed the line of ethical boundaries.

Sometime after the first year following the murders, Attorney Donovan contacted the Petit and other
family members   furtively ,using a " restorative justice firm to lure Petit and the other family members,with offers of opening a dialogue between he and the defendent joshua Komisarjevsky. They were taking the more with honey tack just as Joshua Komisarjevsky had placated and assuaged Jennifer Petit in order to gain her compliance,  before murdering her and her children.

When the understandably angry and disgusted family saw through manipulative tactic which included phone calls and letters, they immediately sought a restraining order against Donovan or any agency he hired.

A little over a year later,  Donovan came perilously close to being held in contempt of court for pulling a despicable self serving stunt outside of the Hayes trial, using the media horde gathered there to in effect interject a formal denial of that days forensic evidenciary testimony;  that his client Komisarjevsky had sodomized 11 year old Michaela Petit, before pouring gasoline on her and setting her afire.

As there was a gag order on the case at the time, an order which incidentally his client had flouted by basically co-authoring a self serving book about the crimes, Donovan made a point to say that he was announcing that the forensic findings announced that day in court were wrong, regarding the rape of little Michaela and claimed to be trying to ease the Petit family's minds between now and his clients trial.

When the Petit family heard the by now televised press conference with Donovan they were understandably angry and upset, and sought out the judge who placed the original gag order.

Attorney Donovan claimed to be utterly baffled at the Petit family's response; he thought they'd be relieved to know that his client had only ejaculated upon little Michaela and not sodomized her.

And this, because his client said so.

Two days following the highly publicized press gathering,Donovan, seeing the train coming down the tracks
did a full turn about and declared that his inappropriate impromptu press gathering"was the"only way that he could challenge the gag order on the case" which he didn't feel was fair, despite his client basically co authoring a book containing his version of the crimes, a version that heaped the blame on his accomplice naturally.

The worst part of all of this was that Attorney Donovanwith full aforethought broke a judge imposed gag order on a high profile case in order to discuss details about a minor child's sexual assault--the very reason that Television cameras were not allowed in either the Hayes or Komisarjevsky trials in the first place.

Now comparatively,
At one point during the pre-trial period long before any trial was scheduled Mr Ullmann using gentlemanly strategy  declared to the court that it "made him sick" that the court was even considering having simultaneous trials for Komisarjevsky and Hayes, in order to try to spare the families some of whom were elderly the trauma and expense of two separate trials likely a year apart.
The prosecutor withdrew the request likely afraid of a possible grounds for future appeal once the uproar began.  But the words were out there already:

"It makes me sick"

Michaela Petit's room after her body, still tied to her bed, was removed