NEW HAVEN (CBS/AP) — A Connecticut man convicted of murdering a woman and her two daughters in a home invasion is trying to avoid the death penalty by arguing executions actually cost taxpayers more than life sentences.
Steven Hayes, 47, was found guilty Tuesday of capital felony murder in the July 2007 deaths of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela.
Attorneys for Hayes filed papers Friday in New Haven Superior Court saying they intend to call an expert who would testify that carrying out a death sentence far exceeds the cost of a life sentence.
Prosecutors objected, saying the cost of an execution is a matter for the Legislature and irrelevant to whether Hayes should receive the death penalty.
A jury that convicted Hayes Tuesday of the home invasion in Cheshire in 2007 will begin weighing whether he should be executed starting Oct. 18.
Hayes was found guilty on the following counts:
- Guilty of 6 counts of capital felony.
- Guilty of 3 counts of murder.
- Guilty of 4 counts of first-degree kidnapping.
- Guilty of 1 count of first-degree sexual assault.
- Guilty of 1 count of second-degree assault.
- Guilty of 1 count of third-degree burglary.
The only count of which Hayes was acquitted on was arson, WCBS 880′s Fran Schneidau reported. The jury determined it was not Hayes, but rather co-defendant Joshua Komisarjevsky who lit the match that torched the family’s gasoline soaked Cheshire house.
There was pin drop silence in the courtroom and Hayes showed no emotion as the verdicts were read, 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported.
The jury deliberated roughly 4 1/2 hours over two days and in two weeks, the same jurors will begin hearing evidence on whether or not Hayes should be sentenced to the death penalty by lethal injection, CBS 2′s Lou Young reported.
Hayes’ defense conceded his involvement in the fatal home invasion but blamed his co-defendant for being the aggressor. Komisarjevsky faces trial next year. He also faces the death penalty.
Dr. William Petit thanked jurors for convicting one of the two suspects and spoke to reporters shortly after the verdict was read in court in New Haven on Tuesday afternoon.
“There is some relief, but my family is still, still gone. It doesn’t bring them back. It doesn’t bring back the home that we had,” Dr. William Petit said.
Petit was tied up and assaulted but managed to escape the 2007 attack in his family home in Cheshire.
Reporters asked Petit if he was going to be able to go through the agony of having to deal with the next phase of Hayes’ trial and Komsersevjesky’s trial.
“Do I really want to do it? Do I look forward to the ride every day? No. I have a little nausea every time get off the exit ramp, a little nausea every time I get out of the car and walk across the street, but I think I do it for my family,” Petit said.
Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell released a statement shortly after the verdict was read, praising the incredible strength displayed by Dr. Petit during the trial.
“The murders of the Petit family horrified and disgusted us all, almost beyond the ability of words to convey. Today’s verdicts are a measure of justice – but they can never begin to restore the promise lost on that terrible day in July. That grief may ebb over time but it can never be fully expunged,” she said. “I commend Dr. Petit and his extended family for the remarkable strength and dignity they have displayed throughout this agonizing ordeal – which, of course, will continue through the penalty phase, the trial of another suspect and the legal proceedings that are certain to follow. I know that the people of Connecticut will continue to keep the Petit and Hawke families in their thoughts and prayers in the months to come.”