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Connecticut home invasion killer seeks new trial

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - One of two men convicted in the killings of a mother and her two daughters in a 2007 Connecticut home invasion is seeking a new trial, saying recordings of non-emergency police phone lines were withheld from the defense.

Lawyers for Joshua Komisarjevsky asked the Connecticut Supreme Court last week to hold an evidentiary hearing, reverse Komisarjevsky's convictions and order a new trial.

The lawyers, Moira Buckley and John Holdridge, said the recordings would have proved a defense theory that the police response to the home invasion in the quiet suburb of Cheshire was inadequate - an effort to question the credibility of police witnesses who testified against Komisarjevsky.

Prosecutors said the recordings were given to the defense and don't raise any significant appeal issues.

Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes are on death row for the killings of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela. Hawke-Petit's husband, Dr. William Petit, was severely beaten but survived.

During the hours-long ordeal, authorities said Hayes drove Hawke-Petit to a bank and forced to her to withdraw money. Back at the Petits' home, police said Komisarjevsky sexually assaulted Michaela and Hayes sexually assaulted and strangled Hawke-Petit. The two men tied the girls to their beds and set the house on fire before fleeing in the Petits' station wagon and crashing into police cruisers responding to the scene.

Hawke-Petit's family has been critical of the police response, saying officers waited too long to enter the home.

A Cheshire police spokesman didn't immediately return a phone message Wednesday. Police have declined to comment on their response in the past.

Records show police were first called at 9:21 a.m. on July 23, 2007, by the manager at the bank where Hayes took Hawke-Petit, while Hawke-Petit was still in the bank. The manager said Hawke-Petit told a teller her family was being held hostage.

The motion filed by Komisarjevsky's lawyers said police failed to stop Hayes and Hawke-Petit as they returned to the Petits' home from the bank.

"Upon their arrival at the Petit residence, police did not approach the house but instead spent precious minutes setting up perimeters," the motion said.

Police responded to the Petits' home shortly after the call from the bank manager. Other recordings show a town hostage negotiator was told not to report to the Petits' home, and one police official doubted the accuracy of Hawke-Petit's comments to the bank teller.

At around 10 a.m., Komisarjevsky and Hayes sped away from the burning home in the Petits' car before crashing into police cruisers.

Komisarjevsky's motion to the Supreme Court said the defense was not trying to place blame on police over the response, but "to challenge the credibility of various Cheshire police witnesses who testified against him by demonstrating their motive, self-interest, bias and prejudice against him."

It's not clear when the Supreme Court will take up the issue.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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