This disturbing display of violence has gone partially unpunished. One of the three murderers had his death sentence revoked to comply with new state laws. Has justice been served?
It was like an awful nightmare he couldn’t wake up from, William Petit was tied in the basement of his home and could do nothing for his wife as he heard Steven Hayes rape and murder her. William managed to escape the fire Hayes lit as his daughters and wife burned to death.
He added: ‘The insult is compounded by a Supreme Court that rules on not one but 2 cases based on personal opinions and politics and not the law.’
Hayes was sentenced to death in 2010 after being convicted of murder, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree sexual assault and 13 other counts.
Co-defendant Joshua Komisarjevsky was also sentenced to death in 2011.
But in 2012 the Connecticut House of Representatives voted to repeal capital punishment, stopping it from being handed out in future cases.
Originally, the 11 people on death row – including Hayes and Komisarjevsky – were still to face execution.
But in August last year that was deemed to be ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ and their death sentences were commuted.
Hayes’s trial, which ended Wednesday is the first in a series deciding what will be done with those men. Komisarjevsky and the other nine men who were on death row have yet to face theirs.
Petit and his family declined to make a statement in court, saying they had already said what needed to be said during the trial, as did Hayes and his public defender Thomas Ullmann.
Superior Court judge Jon C. Blue concluded: ‘With the gravity of these crimes and the depravity of your character, nothing more needs to be said.’
He then handed down six consecutive sentences of life without possibility of parole, followed by a total of 106 years for Hayes’s crimes.
The pair forced their way into Petit’s home and beat him badly with a baseball bat before tying him up in the basement of his house, which he shared with his wife Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, and their daughters Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11.
The pair demanded money from Petit, then 50, and ransacked his home – but when they found a banking book with $30,000 in it, they changed their mind.
Instead, they decided they would take Hawke-Petit to a bank, and force her to withdraw $15,000. She did, and told the teller what was happening.
But the police did not arrive in time for what happened next
Once back home, Hayes raped Hawke-Petit, then strangled her to death. Petit, still tied up in the basement, could only listen.
When he heard one of the men say that it ‘it will all be over soon,’ Petit realized that they were all going to be killed and managed to break the bonds on his hands – but not those on his feet – and crawl to his neighbor’s house.
The doctor was so bloodied and disfigured by his beating that his neighbor of 18 years didn’t even recognize him at first.
As Petit was crawling to safety, his daughters were suffering. They had been tied to their beds, with pillowcases placed over their heads.
Komisarjevsky raped 11-year-old Michaela – he later told authorities he thought she was 16 or 17 – and then Hayes splashed gasoline around the house and set it ablaze.
In journal entries read in court during the trial, Komisarjevsky wrote that he ‘resented’ the idea that people believe he raped Michaela, but admitting he did sexually assault her and then ‘ejaculated onto her’ in a ‘vulgar display of power.’He also took photos of her after the assault.
Hayley was able to free herself, but died in the hallway due to the superheated fumes. Michaela’s body was found on her bed. It could not be determined how she died.
The suspects then fled the house, ramming through a police barricade with the Petits’ vehicle, before being apprehended.
Facing the prospect of execution in 2013, Hayes told The New Haven Register: ‘Death for me will be a welcome relief and I hope it will bring some peace and comfort to those who I have hurt so much.’
Speaking outside the court Wednesday, Ullmann said he was delighted by the result.
‘It’s a relief for many of us lawyers who have worked on this for so long, to see the elimination of this barbaric punishment [the death penalty]from our laws.’
He added that the only person killed against their will by the state in recent decades was serial killer Michael Ross in 2005 – and he had in fact requested execution.
‘So the state never achieved getting somebody executed against their will,’ he said. ‘It was an incredibly failed criminal justice policy. The costs to the state were enormous. This money could have been used for victims and treatment programs.’
He added that Hayes had converted to Judaism while in court, and that he had to be talked out of suicide several times.
Hayes also sued the Connecticut Department of Correction in August of 2014, alleging the preparation practices for kosher meals in the kitchen at the state’s highest-security prison do not conform to Jewish dietary laws. A federal judge ultimately rejected that argument.
Connecticut is the 19th state to get rid of the death penalty. In other countries, their punishments are much more severe, and the crime rates are a lot lower! This has got to prove something.
Since the death of his daughters and wife in 2007 William has gotten remarried and had a son. He said he will never come to terms with the loss of his first family and that even though they are gone they won’t be forgotten.
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