A heroin addict was found guilty of the brutal slaying and sexual assault of a mother and her two young daughters yesterday in Connecticut. A New Haven jury took 4 hours and 15 minutes to convict Steven Hayes on 16 of the 17 counts with which he was charged. The list of felonies included murder, kidnapping, sexual assault and burglary. Hayes was acquitted on the charge of arson.
The 47year-old defendant showed little emotion when they jury read out the verdict. Victim’s family members including the father Dr. William Petit, the sole survivor of the attack remained composed during the denouement of the hearing. Later after jurors had been excused from the courtroom and the trail recessed family members hugged each other in a solemn expression of emotion.
During a brief press conference after leaving the courtroom, Dr. Petit expressed relief with the verdict.
“We did our best to keep our faith in God that justice would be served. I thought the evidence was fairly overwhelming.”
“There is some relief, but my family is still gone. My home is still gone. It doesn't bring them back. What matters to me most is my family and my memories of my family.” he added.
He also expressed gratitude towards the jury. “We hope they will continue to use the same diligence in the penalty phase,” he said.
When a reporter asked how he had the strength to attend court each day, Dr. Petit replied “Most of you out here are good human beings. You'd probably do the same thing for your family if your family was destroyed by evil.”
Details of the horrific attack have shocked the American public each day as they emerged during the trial. Many jurors were reduced to tears when they were shown pictures from the family’s charred home.
According to police reports Hayes and his accomplice Joshua Komisarjevsky broke into the Petit’s home in the early hours of July 23rd. The began by assaulting Dr. William Petit Jr with a baseball bat when they found him sleeping on the porch of his family home in Cheshire, Connecticut. When they went upstairs they found Mrs Hawke-Petit, 48 and her two teenage daughters Hayley and Michaela. The proceeded to tie up the victims in separate rooms and place pillow cases over their heads.
Hayes then forced Mrs Hawke-Petit to withdraw $15,000 from her bank account while his accomplice held the family hostage. Hayes told police that this was when the plan drastically changed. While he took the mother to the bank, Komisarjevsky was supposed to put the family members in the car and then the pair planned to burn the house to destroy any evidence.
However when Hayes returned Komisarjevsky implied that he has had sex with the youngest girl and he advised Hayes to have sex with the mother to make them even. It was during this sexual assault that Komisarjevsky entered and told him that Dr Petit had escaped. The two then fled the scene after setting the family home on fire with the 3 victims tied up inside.
In February Hayes ended up in a medically induced coma after he attempted suicide at the correctional facility where he was housed.
On October 18th the jury will return to decide whether Hayes will face the death penalty or a life behind bars. His accomplice, Komisarjevsky who is 29 years-old is due to stand trial next year. The pair met 18 months prior to the offence at a halfway house where they were both receiving treatment for alcohol and drug addiction.