Lawyers Want Delay in Sentencing of Conn. Home Invasion Convict

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Steven Hayes has been sentenced to death in the murders of the Petit women.

    Attorneys for convicted murderer Steven Hayes have asked a judge to postpone sentencing for their client, as well as to dismiss one of the convictions against him.

    Hayes was sentenced to death Nov. 8 for the 2007 home invasion murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11.

    In motions filed in court Tuesday, Thomas Ullman asked the judge to set aside the jury's guilty verdict in count 17 of the case, the assault on Dr. William Petit during the home invasion.

    Ullman claims the evidence showed Hayes was outside the home at the time of the assault, which the attorney says was committed by Joshua Komisarjevsky.

    "The evidence clearly establishes that Steven Hayes was outside the residence during co-defendant's physical assault of Dr. William Petit and that the assault was completed prior to the defendant being let into the home by the co-defendant," the motion read.

    Ullman wants to delay the scheduled Dec. 2 sentencing to investigate whether Hayes' federal and state constitutional rights to a fair trial were violated.

    Among the reasons in the motion, the attorney suggests media coverage of the trial, including "Tweeters" from inside the courtroom, may have affected the jury's decision.

    The motion also claims the attention the case received during the senate campaigns of Richard Blumenthal and Linda McMahon, as well as the gubernatorial campaigns of Dan Malloy and Tom Foley may have swayed jurors opinions about the case.

    Ullman says his investigation will likely lead to further litigation on some of these matters. He's asked the judge to delay sentencing until Feb. 2, 2011.

    Meantime, out of concern for the shell-shocked jury, Connecticut's Judicial Branch took the rare step of offering counseling services. Former Juror Maico Cardona,said he is grateful for the help.

    "I wasn't prepared mentally for what I was going to see," Cardona said.

    Only a handful of states provide counseling services for jurors, and for now Connecticut is offering it only through a pilot program for those involved in the home invasion trial. But legal experts say such assistance can be invaluable for those picked at random and thrust into emotionally trying murder cases.

    The trial in New Haven had several factors that can aggravate jurors' stress: multiple victims including children, sexual assault, graphic evidence and — as a capital case — the responsibility of deciding whether a defendant should live or die, jury scholar Valerie Hans said.