CT Jury Ends 3rd Day Deliberating Penalty in Home Invasion Case

Sunday, Nov 7, 2010  |  Updated 4:54 PM EDT
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Photo Evidence From Hayes Murder Trial

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The face of evil: Steven Hayes

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A Connecticut jury ended a third day of deliberations without deciding whether to sentence a man convicted in a fatal home invasion to death or life in prison.

The jury returns at 10 a.m. Monday.

Steven Hayes was found guilty last month of killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters - 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela -- in 2007 in Cheshire.

In closing arguments, prosecutors cited a letter Matthew Hayes wrote to authorities shortly after the crime as they argued that Hayes' difficult childhood was not a reason to spare him the death penalty. Authorities said it was Matthew who took the brunt of the beatings and turned out fine.

Hayes' defense is arguing he should be spared the death penalty because his mental capacity was significantly impaired.

The New Haven jury at one point Saturday asked to hear some of the testimony from Dr. Eric Goldsmith.

The psychiatrist testified that Hayes said he felt betrayed and became enraged when co-defendant Joshua Komisarjevsky told him he had killed the girls. Goldsmith testified that Hayes said he then strangled and raped Hawke-Petit. The psychiatrist concluded that Hayes was in an extreme emotional state at the time, that diminished his ability to control himself.

But prosecutors said Hayes made a confession to state police that showed he knew Komisarjevsky was not telling the truth and the girls were still alive at the time.

Hayes was convicted of sexually assaulting and strangling Jennifer Hawke-Petit. Authorities say the men tied the two girls to their beds, poured gasoline on them and set the house on fire. Dr. William Petit, Hawke-Petit's husband and the girls' father, was beaten and tied up but managed to escape to a neighbor's house to get help.

Komisarjevsky faces trial next year.

Outside court, Hawke-Petit's sister, Cindy Hawke-Renn, said she was trying to stay positive and upbeat.

"It's the worst thing we've ever been through in our lives and I hope nobody ever has to go through it again," Hawke-Renn said. "I honestly can't imagine, if the death penalty is not sought in this, when it would ever be used. But that has to be the jury's choice and not mine."
 

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