Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bozo the Attorney

I don't know why they call Connecticut the Nutmeg State. I'm positive we produce no nutmeg. Lately, our best-known product seems to be horrific crime stories.

Shortly after I acquired my foothold here in Windham County, the state executed Michael Ross, who had terrorized the farmland out here many years ago. In about a month, the state will inflict the trial of Joshua Komisarjevsky on us. Last year, his accomplice in the notorious Cheshire home invasion, Steven Hayes, was sentenced to death. If you aren't already familiar with the details of the crime, I suggest you not take the trouble to find out. I won't give any links but you can use your favorite commercial search engine if you must. I will mention a couple of details in this post, so if you really don't want to know, stop reading.

Hayes's attorney played it pretty straight. He didn't have a lot to work with, so he did end up asking a couple of off-the-wall questions at trial, but he had to do something to earn his fee. JK's legal team, however, is weirdly creative.

One of his lawyers violated a gag order by holding a press conference on the courthouse steps during the Hayes trial, to announce that yes, his client had tied an 11 year old girl to her bed, photographed her genitalia with this cell phone, doused her in gasoline and set her on fire. But, he did not anally rape her, in spite of where they found his semen. Well okay then. Sorry I misjudged the man.

Now, in pretrial motions, JK's counsel have tried to get the judge replaced, accusing him of being injudicious, intemperate, and biased. They lost the motion, so now they will face the same judge who they have called all sorts of names. That ought to help. They also petitioned that the normal seating arrangements be changed so that the defense sits near the jury. Apparently they believe the jurors will be reluctant to snuff a guy who they have sat close to. Since their client is a sadistic psychopath, I'm sure the jurors will enjoy looking into his cold dead eyes.

But the oddest behavior of the defense is that they have attacked the sole survivor of the crime, Dr. William Petit. Among various snide comments, they have asked that he be barred from the trial. They lost that one too. I presume they are trying to establish grounds for appeal, and I suppose they feel they have to do something. But all this just compounds the crime.

And that brings us to the actual point of this post. Both defendants offered to plead guilty in exchange for life. And that would be the hardest possible time since they would both -- but especially JK -- have to be isolated, since putting them in the prison population would indeed be a death sentence. The state turned them down because they're determined to give them both the needle. They can't even take a guilty plea with the defendants taking a chance in the sentencing phase, since state law doesn't allow for death following a guilty plea.

That means we need two trials, the second largely a re-run of the first, although presumably there will be more emphasis on the specific actions of JK this time. A trial means an assault on the jurors on court personnel, first of all, many of whom were traumatized and needed counseling following the Hayes trial. It also inflicts pain on the larger community that will be subjected to a filtered, but still sickening narrative of the crime. In order to kill these guys, the entire community is forced to wallow in their depravity and the agony they have inflicted, for months, so as to ritually turn it back against them.

Some people view this as somehow restoring order, or making the community whole in some way. I do not agree. I think it drags us down. We know these men are evil. I prefer to be better.


  1. Too horrible for any thoughtful words.

  2. Well. I don't read about sensationalist trials, so reading this post told me more than I had known. I wish I hadn't read it. As Robin says, too horrible.

    I agree with every word you've written here--it is unforgivable that the state didn't accept their guilty pleas.

    JK's lawyers seem to be as reprehensible as their client.

  3. The state is following the wishes of Dr. Petit. I wish he felt otherwise, but it would be improper to take issue with him.