Entries in Jennifer Hawke-Petit (3)


Jury in Connecticut Home Invasion Discusses Death Sentence

Jurors in the Connecticut home invasion trial spent four days deliberating before sentencing convicted murderer Steven Hayes to death. Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Though the jurors in the Connecticut home invasion trial spent four days deliberating before sentencing convicted murderer Steven Hayes to death, a meeting afterward with the sole survivor was one of the hardest moments.

"That was probably the toughest moment for me when it came to keeping the waterworks from starting," juror Herbert Gram said of their meeting Monday with the Petit family in a courthouse basement room.

For the family of murder victims Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 47, and her two daughters, Hayley, 17 and Michaela, 11, the verdict brought a rush of emotions -- gratitude, sadness and something even more overwhelming.

"I guess a huge sense of relief that it was over," Hawke-Petit's sister, Cindy Hawke-Renn, told ABC News on Tuesday of her reaction to the verdict. "I guess I was glad that they came to the decision that they did."

"I felt like if any crime ever called for the death penalty, this probably did," she said.

Many involved in the Hayes' trial and sentencing had nothing but effusive praise for Dr. William Petit, who never wavered in his determination to find justice for his family. Petit, who had been severely beaten in the attack on his family, but managed to escape to a neighbor's house, said outside the courthouse Monday that as the verdict was read, "I was crying for loss."

"Michaela was an 11-year-old little girl tortured and killed in her own bedroom, surrounded by stuffed animals," he said, breaking down as he spoke. "Hayley had a great future. She was a strong and courageous person, and Jennifer helped so many kids."

And though the grueling Hayes' trial is now over, Petit will be back in the courtroom next year when Hayes' co-defendant Joshua Komisarjevsky, 30, is tried.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Petit Jurors Split on Executing Convicted Triple Murderer Steven Hayes

Photo Courtesy - Connecticut State Police(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- Jurors were split over whether to send Steven Hayes to death row or sentence him to life in prison for the grisly murder of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, according to jury notes released by the court Friday.

"What does it mean to unanimously find the existence of a statutory mitigating factor?" the jury's note to Judge Jon Blue asked. After meeting with the judge and resuming deliberations, a second note sought additional clarification on mitigating factors, specifically on mental capacity and "conforming to law."

Mitigating circumstances would allow the jurors to sentence Hayes to life in prison rather than to be executed.

Blue summoned the jurors into the courtroom and told them to keep in mind that it's early in their deliberations and to keep working towards a consensus. They were sent home and will resume deliberations Saturday.

In order for the state to get its death penalty ruling, the jury must find Hayes guilty of several aggravating factors beyond just committing the crime, according to the state. Those aggravating factors included committing the murders during the commission of third-degree burglary as well as committing the offenses in a "heinous manner, extreme physical or psychological pain above and beyond that which was necessary" and with "grave risk."

Prosecutors have argued that Hayes and his accused accomplice, Joshua Komisarjevsky, broke into the Petits' home and battered the husband, Dr. William Petit, with a bat. Petit escaped to a neighbor's house to call for help.

Hayes is convicted of raping and choking Jennifer Hawke-Petit to death, while Komisarjevsky is accused of sexually assaulting 11-year-old Michaela Petit. Michaela and her older sister Hayley, 17, were tied to their beds and the house was set on fire.

Komisarjevsky, 30, is scheduled to stand trial early next year.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Attorney in Petit Case Asks Death Penalty Jury to Relive 'Night of Hell'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- A Connecticut jury Thursday was asked one more time to go through the "night of hell" that ended with the murders of a mother and her two daughters as the hands of a man the state is trying to execute.

In his closing argument, Connecticut State's Attorney Gary Nicholson, requested the jurors consider what Jennifer Hawke-Petit was thinking the night convicted murderer Steven Hayes "choked the life out of her."

"Were they in psychological pain?" Nicholson asked as photographs of a smiling Hawke-Petit and her two murdered daughters, Hayley, 17 and Michaela, 11, were shown. "Were they tortured? Of course they were."

State's Attorney Michael Dearington showed the jury one final photograph of the Petit family. Several friends and Petit family members bowed their heads and started quietly sobbing, holding tissues to their faces.

Dearington ended by saying, "There were two beautiful girls, one loving mother and one family destroyed."

The state is pushing for Hayes -- convicted of 16 felony counts relating to the 2007 home invasion at the Petit house -- to be handed the death penalty for his role in the murders and the rapes of Hawke-Petit and Michaela.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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