Sole Survivor Of Cheshire Home Invasion Testifies

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (1010 WINS/AP/ WCBS 880/CBS 2) — Three years after surviving a horrific home invasion, Dr. William Petit finally told his story to a jury. He talked about how the house he shared with his wife and two daughters became the scene of rape and murder that cost him his entire family.

He described a sudden explosion of violence as two men roused him from his sleep, beat him and lead him to the basement.

Petit, whose wife and two daughters were killed in the July 23, 2007, home invasion, took the witness stand in New Haven Superior Court on the second day of the trial of Steven Hayes, one of two suspects.

Dr. Petit’s voice was steady and clear in the courtroom as he began by talking about his wife’s job as a school nurse at Cheshire Academy, his oldest daughter’s acceptance into Dartmouth College, and how his youngest daughter loved brownies.

LISTEN: WCBS 880 CT Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau reports
1010 WINS’ Al Jones Reports

Questioned in detail by prosecutor Michael Dearington, Petit offered chilling testimony in an even, matter-of-fact style.

“It was very strange, Petit told the court,  I remember thinking or feeling ow, ow ow, the next thing I knew I was seated on the sofa,” Petit said.

He said he spent that Sunday playing golf with his father and later eating dinner with his wife and daughters. He said he fell asleep on his couch, waking in the dark with the sensation of blood running down his face. Two people were standing near the couch, one holding a gun, he said.

“If he moves, put two bullets in him,” Petit said one of the assailants said.

Petit said his wrists and ankles were bound and he was eventually taken to his basement, where he was tied to a post.

Dizzy and light-headed from the blood loss, Petit said one intruder asked him for the location of a safe. “If you give us what we want we won’t hurt you,” Petit remembered being told.

He was calm even as he described realizing they were killing his wife and daughters.  He said he heard “some moaning.”  from upstairs and noises, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported.

He said he grew more desperate when he heard one of the assailants upstairs say, in a sinister tone, “Don’t worry. It’s going to be over in a couple of minutes.”

“It’s now or never,” Petit said of his thoughts at the time. “In my mind at that moment I thought they were going to shoot all of us.”

Hayes and another man, Joshua Komisarjevsky, are charged with murder, sexual assault and other crimes in the killings of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela, at their Cheshire home.

Both defendants face the possibility of the death penalty if convicted. Komisarjevsky is awaiting trial.

Petit said he did not know the fate of his wife and daughters, but said he heard his wife in the kitchen tell one of the attackers she needed to change clothes and get a checkbook. He said his wife also called in sick for him at his practice. She soon went to a local bank early Monday and withdrew $15,000 demanded by Hayes and Komisarjevsky, prosecutors say.

Petit said he freed his hands, but not his ankles so he hopped up the stairs, but fell.

“I felt my heart was going to explode out of my chest,” he said.

He could not walk or run so he crawled, but that was inefficient, he said, as he continued to weaken due to what doctors said later was his loss of as much as seven pints of blood after being beaten with a baseball bat, which was entered into evidence Tuesday. Petit said he then rolled on the ground to a neighbor’s house, pounded on his garage door and got assistance.

Also Tuesday, another juror was dismissed after he complained that he was confused by the prosecution’s case.  He accused prosecutors of not being prepared and expecting jurors to have prior knowledge of the case.

After the juror insisted he couldn’t fulfill his duties, the judge eventually dismissed him saying he was concerned about contamination of the jury and a mistrial.

Tuesday’s developments come after three jurors were dismissed on Monday for various reasons.  The jury now stands at 12 with three alternates.

A bank teller testified Monday that Jennifer Hawke-Petit arrived at a local bank to withdraw $15,000 after informing the teller that her family was being held hostage. The bank called police who arrived shortly after Petit sought help from his neighbor, he said.

Petit said he was immediately taken to a hospital, not knowing the fate of his wife and daughters. He said he remained in the hospital for five days when he was released and attended his family’s funerals.

Hayes and Komisarjevsky have tried to blame each other for escalating the crime. Both defendants had offered to plead guilty in exchange for life sentences, but prosecutors pushed for death penalty trials, defense attorneys have said.

Authorities say a chance encounter at a local supermarket led to the home invasion.

Komisarjevsky spotted Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters at the store and followed them home, then returned later with Hayes, authorities said.

Hayes is accused of sexually assaulting and strangling Hawke-Petit. Komisarjevsky is charged with sexually assaulting
11-year-old Michaela. The two then allegedly tied the girl and her sister, 17-year-old Hayley, to their beds, poured gasoline on and around them and set the house on fire.

Hayes and Komisarjevsky fled the burning home in the family’s car, but were caught a short time later when they rammed several police cruisers, authorities said. Hayes was wearing Hayley’s high school cap, police say.

(TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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  • Clarence D'Souza

    Throw those inhumans alive into a burning furnace.and then from there they
    could go on to taste everlasting fire in hell.

    • Michelle

      Those Misreants deserve to suffer the same fate as that poor family…They obviously have no regard for human life…AN EYE FOR AN EYE!

  • Lou

    Why did it take so long for police to respond?

  • Kenny

    There is no way of justice that this country can provide that would be suitable for these two pieces of garbage. They should be beaten and doused with gasoline, sexually assaulted and then left to burn….

  • wank

    the dad should skin them alive

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  • roger

    one thing that puzzles me, ms petit was in the bank at 930 am, she told teller what was going on, teller calls 911 and says ms petit was still in bank and told them the robbers wher calm, one thing there not saying in any time line that i see is when did the first cop arrive, ms petit said to teller they wher calm, so i would think somewhere after the bank she was raped, the way it looks tome is after the 911 call they had time to drive back home, rape ms petit and set the fire then on there way out the first police officer was just getting there and got them as they wher fleeing,what did the cops do, stop for coffee.

  • Dave

    Send these satanic beasts to hell. We shouldn’t pay taxes for their trials. These monsters should be burnt alive and their ashes thrown in the garbage. The world doesn’t deserve garbage like this.

  • steve

    I would like to have just 5 minutes with each one of them. (Hayes & Josh)

  • kgreenrealestate

    why waste time and effort on this? we all know they did it/ just put them in jail and throw away the key!Death would be to easy /auick for them- I cant believe all the BS with the defense on these 2 guys!

  • Melissa

    As someone who has known the Petit family for more than two decades, I feel I must express my feelings. This family has had to endure so many losses in such a short period of time. What these two men did to that beautiful woman and her daughters is the most vile and inhumane of any action I can imagine. Having said that, why are they given more rights than those of their victims? Jennifer, Michaela & Hayley were not treated with fairness, mercy or compassion, why should we care how those monsters are treated. My only concern about them is when can I look forward to their deaths? There is something extremely wrong with our justice system when monsters are given more compassion than human beings. I can not even begin to imagine the pain that Bill Petit endures each and every day since the loss of his family so violently. The images that must run through his mind so often each day. I imagine that what keeps him going even through the pain is the desire to see justice served, not only for the sake of his family, but also to ensure that they are never able to commit such disgusting acts against any other family, ever again. My heart and prayers are always with Bill and his family and may God finally serve true justice because I have little faith that anything our system will do will ever be enough.

    • Levi

      Only God can actually mete out the punishment these satanic monsters did. I would love though to see these things suffer for it but anything that they get here is just a little warm up of what is to come.
      Our justice system is merciful to evil and evil to the merciful. I can’t understand how we are fed this lie how elite and enlightened and great our justice system is when we have some evil who admitted to murdering an innocent family and we even give them a thought of a plea bargain for a life sentence. Our tax money is being wasted every second these pieces of garbage are kept alive. Why?

  • Drew

    I am not a violent man but I believe even burning in hell is less painful than what they put those poor girls through. I am not crazy religious, but I certainly think that no human on this Earth could do the horrible things these men did. Much like Hitler and other greats of torture and sadism I think these men were demons. I think they should be sent right back to hell where they belong.
    For the most part I do not believe in capital punishment. However, it is not safe to have these men on this planet. I also, again, don’t think they’re humans in the sense that they have emotion, feelings, or a soul. I don’t mean that figuratively.
    I remember reading about this my senior year in college and it made me cry. I remember reading that the little girl was almost done with the Harry Potter Novels. It just broke my heart. Also to make it even more unbelievably worse, they murdered these sweet children in the worse way a human can die. It is proven scientifically that burning is the most painful sensation a human can feel.
    How could they? They have to be nothing less then pure evil.
    I pray with all my might that in some way somewhere these girls and their mother are in a resting place where they don’t even remember or care about what happened to their living bodies. I pray they find rest and I pray that their father finds any sliver of peace.

  • nathan

    Cases like this remind me that even as a liberal in many respects, there is a reason for the DP

  • Craig Devitt

    I like Flynn’s solution, but he omitted “feces laden” from the windowless cell description.

  • BE

    William Petit should be given the right of first refusal to tie up and put these two sick individuals to death by his own hand.

  • a. rosenberg

    justice “regular” or “extra-crispy”. DIE!

  • Roy

    No mercy for these animals,they are clearly not human beings,and need to be put to death…………………..

  • Gary Sims

    Words are not even enough to express how evil this deed is. Death is too good for either of these animals. I am sure the doctor, at times, wishes he would have died with his family. Sometimes the evil humas do is just too much for words.

  • Flynn

    I’m with you, John — the death penalty seems like they’re “getting off light.”

    Monsters like these deserve to be shipped to labor camps, where they work for 20 hours a day — the other four hours they are thrown into a windowless cell. Keep them working until they collapse, then pick them up and make them start working again. Work every day nonstop until they die.

    THAT’S the death penalty I’d like to see.

  • bob

    If he had a gun in the basement his kids would still be alive.

  • crstalclear

    We all stand before God almighty at the end of the Day, He wil be taking care of bsiness!!!

  • clair

    they should just hang them if they are found guilty. But i think they should all these murders and rapist instead of giving them the life in prison then maybe we wouldnt have over populated jails and crime would go way down if they actualy knew they were gonna have real punshments.

  • Josh

    What are you talking about? I don’ think that at any time these murderers tried to use religion to justify their horrible senseless actions. We don’t even know what religion they are anyway. The point you are trying to make is stupid. Muslim terrorists will frequently use their religion to justify their evil actions… then yes this makes Islam look bad.

  • Devenio

    These Christian terrorist should be hanged. This is what the bible leads these people to do so the bible must be of the devil!

  • John

    death penalty would be too quick, i would think torture would be better suited for these two animals

  • Jojo

    I hope these 2 guys fry for what they did.

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