Criminal Justice

Lawyer for Co-Defendant in Conn. Home Invasion Case Tries ‘Scorched-Earth’ Approach

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The lawyer representing a defendant set to go on trial in September for a Connecticut triple murder is displaying the aggressive tactics that earned the one-time prosecutor a reputation as a courtroom brawler.

Jeremiah Donovan is the lead court-appointed lawyer for Joshua Komisarjevsky, accused of taking part in tormenting and killing a Connecticut mother and her two daughters during a home invasion. A co-defendant, Steven Hayes, has been convicted and sentenced to death.

According to the New York Times, Donovan has taken on the role of “chief provocateur.” He tried to get the judge in the case removed, citing an unsuitable temperament evidenced by an incident in which he gave chocolate chip cookies to spectators. He attacked the surviving father, Dr. William Petit Jr., claiming he is orchestrating a death-penalty campaign and acting as a “Petit posse.” He protested a gag order that prevented him from commenting on written attacks on his client, saying in a motion that the ban created an “untenable, farcical situation of Shakespearean dimension.”

Connecticut lawyer Mark Dubois told the Times that Donovan’s “scorched-earth defense” may be intended to provoke mistakes by the trial judge that could lead to a new trial and a better chance to avoid a death sentence years from now.

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