Most Voters Support Death Penalty for Cheshire Killer | NBC Connecticut

Most Voters Support Death Penalty for Cheshire Killer

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Most Connecticut residents, 76 to 18, favor the death penalty for Steven Hayes, who was convicted in the Cheshire home invasion murders, compared to 65 to 23 percent who support the death penalty in general, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

    Before Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, were killed, Quinnipiac University polls showed support for the death penalty in the state hovering at about 60 percent.

    Connecticut Favors The Death Penalty

    [HAR] Connecticut Favors The Death Penalty
    A new poll shows the majority in Connecticut favors the death penalty. (Published Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010)

    Hayes was convicted on Oct. 5. Six of the charges for which he was convicted are capital felony charges, which means he could be eligible for the death penalty when sentenced. The penalty phase of the trial begins on Monday.

    Of the potential voters questioned in the poll, 6 percent of voters would base their vote for governor solely on a candidate's position on the death penalty, while 91 percent would "consider other things" before deciding on a candidate.

    "Similar to what we found in the Michael Ross case, support for the death penalty in a specific case can be higher than support in general. This is because some voters who oppose the death penalty in general support it for a particularly heinous crime," poll director Douglas Schwartz, said. "Very few voters are making the death penalty the deciding issue in the race for governor."

    When offered a choice of the death penalty or life in prison with no chance of parole, 46 percent of voters choose the death penalty while 41 percent prefer life in prison.

    Deciding how to apply the death penalty, Connecticut voter opinions are:

    • 7 percent say all people convicted of murder should be sentenced to death;
    • 14 percent say no one should get the death penalty;
    • 78 percent say the death penalty should depend on the circumstances of the case.

    "Similar to past polls, the question wording on the death penalty is important. When voters have a choice between the death penalty and life in prison with no chance of parole," support for the death penalty drops significantly," Schwartz said.