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Connecticut Home Invasion: No Mistrial After Victims' Supporter Speaks To Jurors At Joshua Komisarjevsky Trial

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JOSHUA KOMISARJEVSKY
FILE - This March 14, 2011 file photo provided by the Connecticut Department of Correction shows Joshua Komisarjevsky. Komisarjevsky faces the death penalty on charges of killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters in a July 2007 home invasion in Cheshire, Conn. (AP Photo/Connecticut Department of Correction, File) | AP

By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN, Associated Press

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- A judge denied a defense motion for a mistrial Monday after a supporter of the victims' family spoke to jurors in the trial of a Connecticut man charged with a brutal home invasion.

The juror says a member or supporter of the Petit family commented Friday during the lunch break, saying "thank you for doing what you're doing." The judge then questioned the jurors about what was said and how it affected them.

Two alternate jurors were nearby but said they didn't hear the comment. None said the comment affected his or her ability to serve impartially.

Judge Jon Blue called the comment improper but not catastrophic.

Prosecutors are expected to rest Monday in their case against Joshua Komisarjevsky, who faces a possible death sentence if convicted of killing a Cheshire woman and her two daughters in 2007.

SEE PHOTOS FROM THE TRIAL (story continues below):

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Walter Bansley, Komisarjevsky's attorney, noted he had sought unsuccessfully to have the trial moved out of New Haven. He said the comment was aimed at influencing jurors.

"This just highlights the extraordinary pressure that surrounds this case," Bansley said.

He said the defense has had difficulty getting witnesses to cooperate because of perceived and actual intimidation. Bansley said a defense supporter was approached on the first day of the trial by a Petit family supporter who said: "Wow dare you support him. You disgust me."

A defense witness had a dead mouse left in his mailbox, Bansley said. He also said members of lawyers' families have been threatened.

"It's this atmosphere that permeates the whole trial," Bansley said. "It's certainly clear to the defense Mr. Komisarjevsky cannot get a fair trial."

Blue said the comment to the jurors was a compliment and not a threat.

"It was improper but it was not catastrophic," Blue said.

He warned he would ban anyone from the court if they approach jurors.

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