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Death penalty handed down in home-invasion murders

Dec 3, 2010 12:59:00 AM - thestate.com
For more than three years in numerous court hearings, Dr. William Petit Jr. has sat in courtrooms just a few feet from Steven Hayes, the killer now sentenced to death for the torture and murders of Petit's wife and two daughters.

At times, Hayes would turn his head and glance at Petit. On Thursday, just minutes before a Superior Court judge sentenced him to die by lethal injection, Hayes revealed what he was thinking while looking at the only surviving member of the family he helped destroy.

"I am tormented and have nightmares about what happened in that house," Hayes told a courtroom packed with journalists and spectators, including four jurors who condemned him to die for the July 23, 2007, slayings of Hayley and Michaela, and the rape and murder of their mother, Jennifer Hawke-Petit.

Petit was beaten with a baseball bat during the break-in, attack and arson at his Cheshire home by Hayes and another man. He escaped and tried to get help before the house went up in flames.

"I oftentimes looked at Dr. Petit and became sick to my stomach knowing what he has been through and what he continues to go through to this day," Hayes said. "There's not a moment that goes by that this does not weigh on my mind, especially since he suffered due to my actions. My suffering is meaningless compared to that of Dr. Petit. 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."

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