Judge Postpones Decision on Cost of Death Penalty in CT Murder

Lawyers for Steven Hayes want to bring up the costs of executions

Friday, Oct 22, 2010  |  Updated 9:15 PM EDT
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A special hearing will be held on Wednesday.

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Attorneys for convicted Cheshire home invasion killer Steven Hayes told a judge on Wednesday that they want to be allowed to bring up the cost of executions when jurors consider whether to impose the death penalty.

Judge Jon Blue held a special hearing but did not make an immediate decision.

Hayes was convicted on Oct. 5 of killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, while invading their Cheshire home in 2007.

He was found guilty on 16 of 17 charges, six of which are capital offenses, which makes it possible that he could get the death penalty when the penalty phase begins next week.

The defense want to call Dr. James Austin to testify about the costs of the death penalty and to call Dr. Mark Cunningham to "counter the popular assumption that imprisonment for a violent crime leads to violence during the term of imprisonment."

Prosecutors said cost is irrelevant when deciding whether Hayes should receive the death penalty. The state filed a "motion in limine," which calls to exclude "evidence pertaining to the costs of execution in the penalty phase" of the Hayes trial.

The state also filed a "notice of aggravating factors" listing the factors it plans to use during penalty phase.

They include:

  • The fact that Hayes was convicted of third-degree burglary eight times before the Petit home invasion.
  • He committed the offenses knowingly, creating grave risk of death to another person.
  • The offense was especially heinous, cruel or depraved 

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