What the Jury’s Deciding | NBC Connecticut

What the Jury’s Deciding

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    Steven Hayes' trial begins.

    For more than seven weeks, jurors have listened to disturbing testimony and viewed horrific photos of what happened to Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters inside their Cheshire home on July 23, 2007.

    Two men injured Dr. William Petit, raped and strangled Jennifer Hawke-Petit, then raped, tied up and set fire to the beds of his daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11.

    On Oct. 5, the jury convicted Steven Hayes on 16 of 17 charges.

    Now they must choose between life in prison without the possibility of parole or death by lethal injection. It's a decision that will bring them back to court on Saturday.

    On Friday, they began deliberating and had several questions for the judge regarding statutory mitigating factors -- Hayes’ mental capacity, whether his ability to conform his conduct to requirements of the law was impaired and whether he could have foreseen that his actions could have caused great risk or death in the murder of Michaela, and the kidnapping of Hayley and Michaela.

    They asked for clarification and had not reached their findings by 4:30 p.m., so they will be back in court on Saturday. 

    There are multiple steps the jurors must take before Hayes is sentenced.

    The jury must fill out a verdict form for each felony for which Hayes was convicted.

    For each felony, the jury must first determine if there are statutory mitigating factors. Two jurors saw no mitigating factors, while 10 did, according to a note the jury handed over in court.

    The jury does not have to agree on which factor, so long as they are unanimous that even one exists. If they say yes, Hayes will be sentenced to life. If they say no, they move on and weigh aggravating factors.

    Again, they don't have agree on which they feel applies, so long as they are unanimous. If they say yes, Hayes will be sentenced to life. If they say no, they move on and look at a list of 10 non-statutory mitigating factors.

    Here, they'll weigh whether the mitigating factors outweigh the aggravating. If they say yes, Hayes will be sentenced to life. If they say no, they move on.

    Then, the clerk will read the form in court.