The judge in the Joshua Komisarjevky trial has ruled the defendant’s confession and other statements may be presented by prosecutors in his trial next month.
Defense lawyers for Komisarjevsky had sought to suppress his statements, including his confession to the triple homicide, on the grounds that his lack of sleep and the effects of a car crash he was in meant he was not legally capable of waiving his Miranda rights during the police interrogation.
Miranda rights allow a suspect to have a lawyer present when questioned. Komisarjevsky waived his rights repeatedly, according to arrest transcripts. (See attached pdf for judge's ruling).
He is scheduled to go to trial on Sept. 19 for the murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters during a home invasion kidnapping and robbery at their Cheshire home in July 2007, which ended in their murders.
He faces the death penalty if convicted. His co-defendant, Steven Hayes, was convicted last year and sentenced to death row.
Superior Court Jon C. Blue noted in his ruling that police informed Komisarjevsky of his Miranda rights four times during his questioning after he was arrested while fleeing from the home invasion crime scene.
Moreover, Judge Blue noted that Komisarjevsky had been arrested before for unrelated offenses. "It is a fair inference that the defendant was not hearing his Miranda rights for the first time," the judge said.
The judge also noted that the defense is not arguing that the defendant has a sub-normal level of intelligence that would make him unable to understand his legal rights.
Although Komisarjevsky was involved in an automobile accident prior to his arrest and interrogation, he did not complain of an injury, nor was there any other indication he was injured from the accident, the judge said.
Judge Blue said he could not find any reason to believe that Komisarjevsky was not able to understand his Miranda rights because of his lack of sleep following his arrest and during his interrogation.
In fact, the judge said the record as presented in a hearing earlier this week does not preclude the possibility that Komisarjevsky had slept for part of the period between his arrest and the end of his interrogation.
In a motion earlier this week requesting to suppress Komisarjevsky’s statements, his defense lawyers indicated that detectives who interrogated him benefited from his lack of sleep similar to how CIA interrogators use sleep deprivation to break down terrorist suspects during interrogation.
The defense lawyers said they did not intend to accuse the detectives of deliberately using sleep deprivation to get an confession.
"Moreover, and much more to the point, in the defendant’s numerous statements to the police beginning with his apprehension at about 9:45 on July 23rd, there is no indication that at any time that the defendant said that he was tired and that, to me, is pretty persuasive evidence, especially since there is evidence that between his two statements, the defendant was taken to the hospital, and there’s been no suggestion that there are any medical records that the defendant indicated to anyone at the time during this period of time that he was tired," Judge Blue said in his ruling.
He noted that Komisarjevsky was 26 years old and in good health at the time of his arrest, and said it would be purely speculative to claim that he was too sleep deprived to "voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently" waive his Miranda rights.