New London murder trial begins without defendant
New London ― Robert Parise was covered in blood, suffering from multiple stab wounds and in and out of consciousness when state judicial marshal Sgt. Jamie Spotten asked him, “Who did this to you?”
Spotten, testifying Monday in New London Superior Court in the murder trial of Christopher Petteway, said Parise initially responded with words too faint to understand. So she directed fellow marshal Jason Joseph, who was kneeling near Parise’s head while attempting to stem the flow of blood, to lean in and listen to Parise’s answer.
“He said ‘Christopher Petteway’ and spelled out his name,“ Joseph testified.
Spotten and Joseph were among the people who had run to aid the 63-year-old Parise after he had collapsed outside the New London courthouse on Broad Street on the afternoon of Oct. 4, 2018. Parise’s home at 25 Brainard St., where police allege Petteway stabbed Parise, is across the street from the courthouse.
Petteway, 47, is charged with murder and violation of a standing criminal protective order in the death of Parise, his former housemate and intimate partner. Monday was the first day of a trial before a 12-member jury in New London Superior Court.
Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney Stephen Carney, who is prosecuting the case, introduced the jury to more than a dozen witnesses on Monday and Tuesday, some of whom saw Parise, a local salon owner that friends referred to as a “gentle soul”. in his final moments of life.
Photos of judicial marshals treating Parise’s multiple stab wounds were projected onto a screen for jurors on Monday. Several members of Parise’s family attending the trial broke down in tears.
New London police would capture Petteway on the same day of the stabbing with the help of a tip from Trisha Rios, who was picking up cigarettes from a nearby convenience store when she spotted the police activity on Brainard and Broad streets. Rios testified on Monday that she had a “gut reaction” that something was wrong. She called Petteway.
Rios said she knew Petteway was in a relationship with Parise, who she referred to as Mr. P, and knew the relationship “wasn’t going well.” Records show Petteway was arrested in the summer of 2018 and sentenced to 30 days in prison on the charges of threatening and disorderly conduct in connection with a domestic violence incident involving Parise. Parise and Petteway had lived together at one point. Parise told staff from Safe Futures ― the area provider for domestic violence victims ― that Petteway had threatened to kill him when he was released from prison.
When Rios reached Petteway on the phone on the afternoon of Oct. 4, 2018 , Rios said she asked Petteway “if he was okay.”
“He said ‘I messed up. I really messed up,’” Rios testified.
When Rios assured Petteway that they could “fix this,” she said Petteway replied “No. I can’t fix this. I gutted him.”
Several New London police officers testified on Tuesday about Petteway’s capture at Waterfront Park. After he was taken into custody, police said Petteway made statements confessing to the murder such as, “I had a key to the house, went in and just stabbed him up,” police reports show.
“I got him as many times as I could,” Petteway told police, according to the arrest warrant affidavit in the case.
New London Police Officer John Green testified on Tuesday that Petteway, after being transported to New London police headquarters, had asked officers “something to the effect of did he die yet?”
At one point during questioning about the whereabouts of the knife used in the attack on Parise, Petteway claimed he had blacked out.
Petteway was not in the courtroom on Monday or Tuesday, having again refused transport from prison to the courthouse. He is being represented by public defender Christopher Duby, who has asked to be removed as counsel because of Petteway’s refusal to speak to him.
“I have no relationship with (Petteway) whatsoever,” Duby told Judge Shari Murphy on Monday. “I maintain I’m just in an impossible situation.”
Murphy denied Duby’s motion to be removed as counsel and additionally rejected another of Petteway’s motions to terminate Duby as his attorney and represent himself. Petteway, who had already fired his former public defenders and caused a delay in his trial, was at one time allowed to represent himself, but had refused to come to court to finish jury selection.
Murphy referred to Petteway’s behavior as disruptive at times and said his ongoing complaints about his lawyers “lack validity.” She said Petteway’s actions amounted to a “campaign to manipulate the system and delay the start of trial.”
Petteway still has the option to attend the trial which continues on Wednesday.