NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CBS 2) – Jurors are reliving the horror of a brutal home invasion and triple-murder in a New Haven courtroom this week.
On Thursday, the only survivor sat through a presentation of crime scene photos of the home where his wife and two daughters were killed.
The house in Cheshire was bulldozed and turned into a memorial after the horrible home invasion three years ago.
The only survivor of the attack saw crime scene photos of the home Thursday at the trial of one of the men accused of wiping out his family.
Dr. William Petit remained composed and grateful.
“We’re happy with the way the prosecutions is presenting its case and things are moving along at a reasonable pace,” Dr. Petit said. “We have a lot of support, and we’d like to thank friends and people from all over the state and all over the country for their notes and texts and e-mails. You’ve been very supportive.”
The jury saw the horror through the eyes of crime scene photographer Sgt. Karen Gabienelli of the Connecticut State Police.
A shot of young Micahela Petit’s room was especially horrifying – flashes of pink décor visible through the fire damage, leading across the floor to the trundle bed where she died.
“The photos are difficult, although we all walked through the house many years ago,” said Cynthia Hawke-Renn, the sister of Dr. Petit’s wife. “We don’t cry at everything, but we have lived with this for over three years, and we did walk through the house a long time ago, so those images really stay in your mind even though you wish they could leave.”
There were pictures of the restraints used to tie up the mother and two daughters and shots of the charred clothing they wore. There were images of rifled dresser drawers and pillaged jewelry boxes, and three melted containers that police say contained the accelerant that spread the fatal fire. It’s all evidence, the state says, of cruel premeditation.
“I guess if you can have faith in a judicial system, I guess we’re trying to have it,” Hawke-Renn said.
The defendant, Steven Hayes, is apparently feeling the strain of the trial as well. He had a seizure Wednesday night in his prison cell.
Hayes’ lawyer said he was well enough to attend the trial Thursday morning, but at the lunch break he got the judge to agree to adjourn for the day.
In the tri-state area, Connecticut is the only state with a death penalty. The state legislature tried to repeal it in June, but the measure was vetoed by Governor Jodi Rell.