NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP/WCBS 880/ CBS 2/ 1010 WINS) — A defense lawyer, saying his client would “concede much, but not all” of the case against him, told a jury Monday that the defendant killed a Connecticut mother in a home invasion three years ago that also resulted in the deaths of her two children.

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

Steven Hayes’ trial began Monday in New Haven Superior Court with a prosecutor warning jurors that they would hear “indescribable” details and with Hayes’ own attorney admitting that his client was involved in the violent home invasion.

Hayes, 47, is trying to avoid to possibility of being put to death in the killings of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her 11- and 17-year-old daughters. Her husband and the only survivor of the home invasion in Cheshire, Dr. William Petit, was scheduled to testify.

Authorities say Hayes forced Hawke-Petit to withdraw money from a bank before she was killed.

The bank teller who served her, Kristin Makhzangi, was the first witness to testify. She said Hawke-Petit told her she needed to withdraw $15,000 because her family was being held hostage.

“Her hands were a little shaky but she was not overly anxious,” Makhzangi said. “She was focusing on our conversation.”

Makhzangi said she talked with bank manager Mary Lyons, gave Hawke-Petit the money and then saw her get into a car that police say was being driven by Hayes. Lyons simultaneously called police.

Prosecutors played for the jury the tape of Lyons’ 911 call.

“She is petrified,” Lyons told a dispatcher.

Earlier in the day, Public Defender Thomas Ullmann told the jury that Hayes sexually assaulted and killed Hawke-Petit.

But Ullmann noted that Hayes told police that things “got out of control,” and that Hayes’ co-defendant, 30-year-old Joshua Komisarjevsky, said no one was supposed to get hurt.

The crime started out as a robbery but veered into a homicide and ended with the house being burned to destroy evidence, Ullmann said. Authorities say the fire killed the children.

“I hope I don’t sound callous or indifferent in describing what happened. These are the chilling facts of the case,” Ullmann told jurors.

State’s Attorney Michael Dearington told jurors they would hear “indescribable events in the testimony,” but asked them to render a fair decision.

Dr. Petit and other family members attended the trial’s first day.

“It has been a very painful process to get to this day,” his sister, Hanna Chapman, told reporters after the session. “And although the pain will never end we think of Jennifer, Hayley and Michaela every second of every day.”

Hayes and Komisarjevsky, who is awaiting trial, 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 July 2007 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.

Authorities say Hayes and Komisarjevsky, two paroled burglars, broke into the house, tied up Dr. Petit and beat him, before taking his family hostage and forcing his wife to withdraw money from a bank.

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.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (26)
  1. Deerface says:

    You are kidding me, right? HACK THEM UP INTO LITTLE PIECES OR LET RAVENOUS DOGS OR WILD BOARS EAT THEM ALIVE. HOW’S THAT? Spend tax payers money on these pieces of garbage for trial and civil rights in jail is egregious!

  2. katie says:

    These story’s make me stick. My daughter was 11 at the time of the girls getting raped. These to should be put in prison and let the other inmates beet on them until they die. I cry every time i read something like this. My whole heart felt sympathy goes out to the entire family and friends of them. May god be with you through the harsh times of this.

  3. Beth says:

    They are monsters and should be tortured before being put to death.

  4. M. Slade says:

    These men are animals. Jail time would be a blessing for them. Being a CT resident, I am supporting the death penalty. This is exactly why we still have it in CT. For horrific crimes like this, with a total lack of humanity.

  5. mel says:

    We are all responsible for our own personal security.

    But, when society unleashes two savages as these on it’s unsuspecting, there is little even the most hardened and prepared amongst us could do to survive encounters as this.

    For all of the people calling for the torturous deaths of these men, clearly none (few?) of you have ever come close to intentionally taking the life of someone else. That process tends to also strip you of some of your own humanity.

    I agree that these men have no place within any sort of society – civilized, or wild. Should they be put to death? Yes, if found guilty in a court of law for the crimes of which they are accused, and within a manner prescribed by the statutes of the jurisdiction within which they committed their sick acts.

  6. John says:

    They both should be given the death penalty for what they did! Even the bible says an eye for an eye. They are not fit to be called human beings for what they did!

  7. RODNEY says:


  8. binky says:

    “But Ullmann noted that Hayes told police that things “got out of control,” and that Hayes’ co-defendant, 30-year-old Joshua Komisarjevsky, said no one was supposed to get hurt.”


  9. acdinnerplan says:

    I am so not blaming the victims here but people in CT (where I am from and my family still lives) leave their doors unlocked during the day. Please people, even if you are home, lock your doors!

  10. DH says:

    If no one was supposed to get hurt, they surely went to excessive lengths to kill these people. How on earth can a jury not convict these men and put them to death. And how on earth can Hayes think he should avoid the death penalty. They should die just as horrific a death as can be given. These events have haunted me for years.

  11. wallychamp says:

    death is too generous of a punishment for them, put them in a mexican prison for a few weeks where they get gang raped every hour of the day, then strip them naked and let the poor widower get busy on they ass with a blow torch, then sowe they ass shut and keep feedin them. repeat all this for 20 years and then put a bullet in their heads

  12. David says:

    another good reason to have firepower in your home!

    1. Armyof2 says:

      I agree with David we need to be able to defend ourselves against people like this, we should all be able to have handguns in our home for protection.

  13. Karen says:

    Why weren’t the bank employees able to get the police there right away? Could this have been prevented with a quicker response time? This poor father!

    1. Laura says:

      I understand police can’t rush the house because it was a hostage situation, and they were told that if the perps knew the police had been alerted they would murder the family, but there’s got to be a better police protocol than “wait it out and see what happens.” CNN reports cops knew about the hostage situation 40 minutes prior to house being set on fire. That 40 minutes is when the rapes and murders occurred.

  14. END says:

    Death is too quick for them, they need to die slowly and painfully they must be made an example of…

  15. littleoneme says:

    They should be destroyed. Horrific crime. Horrible people. No sympathy for these losers. Pouring gasoline on children, setting a fire. Cruel and inhumane. Again, no sympathy

  16. saneone says:

    cut their balls off and feed them to eachother, then throw them in jail to be sexually assaulted , finally pour acid on them on live tv
    killing them is too generous

  17. Duck says:

    What happen to people getting the same punishment if they commit a crime together? Both should get the death penalty! Bank robbers get the same time rather you drive the car or hold the gun. These guys did the crime and one point the finger at the other. Death to both and the settle it as they sit in prison on who is at fault!

  18. hmmm says:

    Fry them in oil then let them burn in hell.

  19. Dawng says:

    Only, Death can assure no second release mistake. These are sick….sickest criminals. No need!

  20. Roy says:

    After they convict these animal soiopaths they should fry them………..

  21. TT says:

    Death penalty is definitely in order here.

  22. chris says:

    Put them to death

    1. Renee says:

      I agree those monsters need to die, My heart goes out to the entire petit family.Dr.Petit has been thru enough let justice begin

Leave a Reply