NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WCBS 880 / CBS 2) — Chilling testimony came on Wednesday in Cheshire home invasion murder trial.
Pained jurors were forced to endure a grizzly narrative, describing details of what the defendant allegedly told police about the day a mother and her two daughters were murdered.
The Connecticut courtroom was packed with stunned faces. If there was ever a case worthy of the death penalty, they say, this is it.
“I think he should definitely get the death penalty, and if he’s given the death penalty, then they should do it, like ASAP,” one trial observer said.
Friends and family of the victims heard the statements accused killer Steven Hayes gave to police after his arrest outside the burned, bloody crime scene.
Hayes claimed he told Hayley and Michaela Petit to stay calm as he tied them to their beds. Meanwhile, his partner beat Dr. William Petit – the sole survivor – with a baseball bat.
There was screaming, and lots of blood.
Then, Hayes told police that he remembered his co-defendant telling the doctor to be quiet, because they were only there for the money.
The most chilling of the statements involved the decision to commit rape. A detective told the jury Wednesday that Steven Hayes tried to blame his younger co-defendant when he was arrested. He said things “got out of control” after he got back from the bank with Jennifer Hawke-Petit, after withdrawing $15,000 ransom money.
He said Josh told him he had sex with Michaela, and Hayes would have to have sex with her mother, Jennifer, to square things up – an instruction the older Hayes said he followed.
So was Hayes nervous or uneasy during the hours-long horror? One trial witness said no.
Selma Haddad said Steven Hayes stopped by to purchase gas on the morning of the murders. He’s seen on surveillance video buying $10 of gas with a $20 bill – perhaps, the state suggests, the gas used to burn the Petit home later that morning.
Haddad remembers looking him in the eye.
“My skin crawls, my skin crawls now,” she said. “I can’t believe I stood right there that morning. I can’t believe I’m here today.”
Friends and family members were most shell-shocked by the testimony, and they comforted each other in the court gallery after.
“You have to remember, we’ve lived with it for three years,” family friend Ron Bucchi said.
For its part, the defense is asking about blood and alcohol tests on cross examination, looking for mitigating factors to avoid a death sentence.
The trial resumes Wednesday morning, when the medical examiner will be on the witness stand.