October 18th, 2010
10:54 AM ET

Sentencing phase starts in brutal Connecticut murder case

CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - The sentencing phase in the trial of Steven Hayes, who was convicted of killing a mother and her two daughters during a brutal 2007 Connecticut home invasion, gets underway Monday.

Hayes, 47, could face the death penalty.

Earlier this month, he was found guilty of 16 of the 17 charges against him in connection with the deaths of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, including nine counts of murder and capital murder and four counts of kidnapping. Jurors acquitted him of an arson charge.

The killings took place in the New Haven, Connecticut, suburb of Cheshire early on July 23, 2007. The brutal nature of the attack shocked the well-to-do community and immediately drew nationwide attention.

William Petit, whose wife and two daughters were murdered, has said he will not testify during the sentencing phase of the trial. Petit said he "regretfully decided" against it because Connecticut's law on victim impact statements is unclear and could provide convicts with grounds to appeal their sentences.

During the penalty phase, jurors will determine whether the mitigating evidence the defense is expected to present outweighs the aggravating factors in favor of the death penalty.

Judge Jon Blue has suggested the penalty proceeding could last as long as four weeks, though the relatively quick pace of the guilt phase of Hayes' trial has led some to speculate the penalty phase could also be quick.

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Filed under: 360° Radar
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Grace dimalibot

    death is too easy for hayes toget away from evil act. Triple life sentence with very very hard labor is better. But for me, i'd rather cut one finger every death anniversary of the victims until his last breath. what he did is unforgivable.

    October 18, 2010 at 11:05 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    He's admitted to murdering the mother; he has been found guilty on just about all the counts against him – I fail to see why the penalty phase should take longer than finding him guilty did. He deprived or helped deprive 3 people of their lives, destroyed a man's family and home, and probably would have killed the man if he had the time before they fled. Even if the other assailant was the ringleader, this criminal could have said no at any point in that ordeal but he didn't. I think he should get the death penalty and sooner rather than later.

    October 18, 2010 at 12:49 pm |
  3. Mary MacElveen

    I am not normally for imposing a death sentence on prisoners found guilty of capital murder, but in the case of Steven Hayes, I surely hope that the jurors do impose such a sentence. To me, he represents true evil to have slaughtered a mom and her two daughters.

    My prayers are with them and William Petit who will live a lifetime without his family. They are the people I care about and NOT Steven Hayes.

    Mary MacElveen

    October 18, 2010 at 11:24 am |