NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — Jurors in a capital murder trial heard stark, chilling evidence about how three victims died, and how their alleged killers joked while they planned the infamous Cheshire home invasion.
The horror in New Haven deepens with every piece of evidence, reports CBS 2’s Lou Young.
On Thursday, the court heard testimony about the indifference of the accused killer, who joked in text messages with his alleged accomplice on the night of the deadly home invasion.
“I’m chomping at the bit to get started,” Steven Hayes sent to his accomplice, Josh Komersarjevsky. “I need a margarita soon.”
The younger man answered that he was tending to his own family, just hours before allegedly destroying someone else’s.
“I’m putting the kid to bed,” Komersarjevsky texted back. “Hold your horses.”
But Hayes was impatient.
“We still on,” he asked Komersarjevsky. And finally, “Dude, the horses want to get loose. Lol.”
Hayes looked unmoved in court, sitting sheepishly at the defense table in a plaid shirt. He was 30 pounds lighter than on the day of the crime three years ago, and missing all of the apparent bravado he had before allegedly committing such heinous acts.
He and Komersarjevsky allegedly took over the home of Dr. William Petit and murdered his wife and two daughters, burning the house down in the process. The scene is now a memorial, and neighbors attended the trial to see the man accused of such horror.
“I live in that town, I grew up there – we never locked our doors, we always felt safe,” Cheshire resident Irma DeFransesco said. “He’s brought sorrow to the whole town. No one could get it out of their minds.”
Police found pictures of the young victims tied to their beds on the younger defendant’s cell phone, and jurors on Thursday learned that the victims died horrible deaths.
The teens burned from gasoline-fed flames, even as they died of smoke inhalation. The mother strangled before being set on fire.
Surveillance video of Hayes buying $10 worth of gas at a nearby station was introduced only Wednesday.
The state could rest its case against Steven Hayes next week, but the defense and the penalty phase of this death penalty trial means it is far from over.
The sole survivor of the Cheshire attack, Dr. William Petit, stepped out of the courtroom for the most graphic testimony on Thursday. Hayes and Komersarjevsky are being tried separately.