The Honorable Judge Jon Blue, of the New Haven Superior Court in New Haven, Conn., handed down six death sentences for Steven Hayes Thursday, Dec. 2, according to cbsnews.com. Hayes had been previously convicted of beating Dr. William Petit and murdering Petit’s wife and two daughters in a 2007 home invasion that went awry. That conviction came Oct. 5 of this year, after the jury deliberated for a total of four hours spread out over two days, says aolnews.com.
Hayes was charged with, and later convicted of, felony kidnapping and murder, along with several other charges. He and his partner, Joshua Komisarjevsky (allegedly), broke into the Petits’ Cheshire home late at night on July 23, 2007. It is important to note that Komisarjevsky is awaiting trial and is still considered innocent at this time.
For the next several hours, Hayes and Komisarjevsky (allegedly) terrorized the entire family. They tied Dr. Petit up in the basement and left him for dead after severely beating him in the head with a baseball bat. The two daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela, were tied to their beds, and Hayes later admitted to molesting the younger daughter. Hayes forced Petit’s wife, 48-year-old Jennifer Hawke-Petit, to go to the bank and withdraw $15,000 in cash. Bank surveillance tape of Mrs. Petit was used as evidence in the trial, and shows a very calm Mrs. Petit appearing to explain something to the teller. Also used during the trial was the bank manager’s 911 phone call to the police to report the crime in progress.
Once Hayes returned to the Petit home with Mrs. Petit, he molested her and then strangled her to death. He and Komisarjevsky (allegedly) then proceeded to pour gasoline all over the house. Evidence in the televised trial revealed that there were traces of accelerant on the girls themselves. The two then set the house on fire with the belief that any evidence of their presence would be destroyed in the fire. Both daughters died, bound to their beds, of smoke inhalation. Miraculously, Dr. Petit managed to escape from the house of horrors, even though he was bound at the hands and feet. He made his way through the basement and up the stairs by hopping, then rolled his body over the ground outside to get to a neighbor’s house. He was so badly beaten that he was nearly unrecognizable, and it took the neighbor a few seconds to realize that it was Dr. Petit and he was in trouble.
Msnbc.com reports that the judge included some of his own sentiment when he passed the sentence, saying, “This is a terrible sentence, but in truth, a sentence you wrote for yourself in flames.”
There are currently nine other men on Connecticut’s death row. There has only been one execution in the last 40 years, and Hayes will probably remain alive for quite a long time, despite his desire to die. He said at the sentencing that death would be a welcome relief and that he is tormented by dreams of the horrible acts he committed.
According to Vinnie Politan of In Session network, Hayes’ execution is scheduled for May of 2011, but that appeals processes could possibly take years.