Steven Hayes Sentenced to Death For Petit Family Murders
Steven Hayes Has Been Sentenced to Death For His Part in the Connecticut Home Invasion Case That Left Jennifer Hawke Petit, Hayley Petit and Michaela Petit Dead
The jury spent about three-and-a-half days deliberating in the case, and despite some setbacks where the jury could not decide on a unanimous decision for Hayes' sentence, he has now been sentenced to death.
There were reportedly two jurors who saw no mitigating circumstances in the case and thought Hayes should not be put to death; mitigating circumstances means that Hayes could have been sentenced to life in prison and not executed.
In order for Hayes to be sentenced to death, the jury had to have found Hayes guilty of several aggravating factors beyond just committing the crime, according to the state.
Those aggravating factors included committing the murders during the commission of third-degree burglary as well as committing the offenses in a "heinous manner, extreme physical or psychological pain above and beyond that which was necessary" and with "grave risk."
The Courant reports that the jury have now sentenced Hayes to death on all six possible death penalty counts which includes "killing Hawke-Petit and Michaela and Hayley in the course of a single action; killing a child under the age of 16; killing Hawke-Petit in the course of a kidnapping; killing Hayley in the course of a kidnapping; killing Michaela in the course of a kidnapping; and killing Hawke-Petit in the course of a sexual assault."
He also beat up Dr. William Petit and tied him up in the basement; he was eventually able to escape and make it to a neighbor's house to call the police.
Hayes accomplice in the case, Joshua Komisarjevsky, will stand trial early next year.
Hayes' trial has been affected by Judge Jon Blue's illness and Hayes' reportedly suffered 'seizure-like symptoms' during the trial and the judge ruled the condition was serious enough to warrant a trial delay. His lawyer also said Hayes urinated on himself then asked for a delay.
The police response during the Connecticut home invasion, as the case has become to be known by, has also been questioned, with some saying the police could have saved three lives from the Petit family if they had acted earlier.
Captain Robert Vignola defended the police response in court and while he did admit that half an hour passed before the 911 call and them seeing the two men running from the Petit house, they were following standard procedure. Vignola said that police have to establish a perimeter first and said they could not see any activity inside the house when they arrived.
The police were alerted to the situation by a 911 call made by the bank manager of a Bank of America branch where Jennifer Hawke-Petit was forced to take $15,000 out of the family account about 40 minutes before she was killed.