After deliberating for a second day, the Connecticut jury hearing the triple homicide and capital felony murder case of three members of the Petit family in Cheshire Connecticut, came into the courtroom with a guilty verdict for Steven Hayes.
The jury only had the case for a few hours on Monday, as jury deliberation didn’t begin until 2:00 p.m. on that day. During that deliberation, Jury members had declined to hear previous testimony of a detective who had interviewed Steven Hayes slightly after the murder, though they had requested a review of that testimony. The jury foreperson had also asked the judge if pouring gasoline around the house and the two Petit children tied to their beds was part of the act of starting the fire that destroyed much of the Petit home.
Steven Hayes faces seventeen charges with six of them constituting capital felony charges-punishable by the death penalty. Key to being found guilty of capital felony is the concept of “intent” to kill plus additional circumstances, such as murder and rape. The additional circumstances involving 11 year old Michaela Hayes were that she was under 16 years of age. The reason Hayes was not charged with raping Michaela Hayes was because police files indicate Michaela had been raped by Joshua Komisarjevsky, who will be tried separately.
With the guilty verdict returned by the Pettit jury, and murderous intent compounded with additional circumstances, the penalty phase of the trial can now be set. Since the jury recommended a death sentence for Steven Hayes, the judge will likely impose it, as there are few circumstances in which a judge may not follow the recommendation.