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Judge: Komisarjevsky’s defense not given evidence in Cheshire home invasion case

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NEW HAVEN -- A judge has ruled that three police recordings weren't given to lawyers for Joshua Komisarjevsky, who is on death row after being convicted of killing a Cheshire mother and her two daughters during a brutal 2007 home invasion.

The findings by New Haven Superior Court Judge Jon Blue on Tuesday provide a boost to Komisarjevsky's pending appeal before the state Supreme Court for a new trial. The recordings are of calls between officers during the response to the home invasion.

Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes were convicted of killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela, at their Cheshire home.

However, Blue says the failure to provide the recordings to Komisarjevsky's lawyers wasn't deliberate. The original recordings were said to be destroyed in a lightning strike at the police station in 2010, before Komisarjevsky's trial. But backups were found at Cheshire Town Hall in 2014.

Prosecutors said nothing in the recordings warrants a new trial.

But Komisarjevsky's lawyers say the recordings help bolster their argument that the police response was inadequate, raising questions about their credibility in testimony against Komisarjevsky.

The recordings include one call between a sergeant and an officer in which they talk about intercepting Petit's car after it left the bank. Police did not stop the car.

Before this appeal goes back to the Supreme Court for a final ruling as to whether he will be granted a new trial, both sides and the judge are going to conduct a teleconference with Jennifer Hawke-Petit’s sister about an email exchange she had with a Cheshire police officer.

Petit's family has also been critical of police response, saying officers waited too long to go into the home to save the victims.

The 2007 home invasion involved Komisarjevsky and Hayes strangling Jennifer after driving her to the bank to withdraw $15,000. Her two daughters died from smoke inhalation after a fire was set at the home. Petit's husband, William, was severely beaten, but survived.

Komisarjevsky and Hayes had been sentenced to death but no longer face execution after the state Supreme Court abolished the death penalty for condemned inmates last year.

With additional reporting by the Associated Press.

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