Verdict: Guilty


Steven Hayes was convicted Tuesday on 16 of 17 charges, including murder, in the home invasion killings of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, 11-year-old Michaela and 17-year-old Hayley.

Hayes was found guilty on all six capital felony charges, which means he could be eligible for the death penalty. Sentencing will be determined in the next phase of the trial. The jury will reconvene in two weeks to make that decision.

He breathed heavily after hearing the verdict, but showed no emotion as jurors said they were unanimous in their verdicts.  

Hayes is one of two men charged with capital felony, murder and sexual assault in the 2007 killings in Cheshire. The three women's bodies were found in their burning home.

Jennifer Hawke-Petit was a school nurse and suffered from Multiple Sclerosis. On Tuesday her father, Rev. Richard Hawke, said on behalf of the victims, that the family is pleased with the verdict, appreciate the support they have been given and feel justice is served.

Hawke-Petit's husband, Dr. William Petit, was beaten but survived and testified during the trial and said good will overcome evil.

“What matters to me most is my family and my memories of my family,” he said. Now, he will wait for the sentencing phase and continue to good work through the Petit Family Foundation, he said.   

Gov. M. Jodi Rell also called the verdicts a "measure of justice."

“The murders of the Petit family horrified and disgusted us all, almost beyond the ability of words to convey. Today’s verdicts are a measure of justice – but they can never begin to restore the promise lost on that terrible day in July," Rell said in a statement. "That grief may ebb over time but it can never be fully expunged."

Deliberation began Monday after eight days of gruesome and emotional testimony about a night of horror the family suffered. The first day ended after the jury asked Judge Jon Blue for a legal definition on whether pouring gas means setting a fire.

Blue told them that it is not the same, but that the mere striking of a match could be considered starting it.

When Blue asked if a verdict is imminent, jurors said no, so deliberations continued on Tuesday. After about two hours, they emerged with their decisions.

The only charge they did not find Hayes guilty on was first-degree feloy arson of the Petit's home. 



On Friday, the state took more than an hour to explain to jurors that Hayes is just as responsible for the horrific crimes as the other suspect, Joshua Komisarjevsky.

The defense argued that Hayes was just a petty thief who got wrapped up with a socio-path and that Hayes didn't want to hurt the Petit family.

Hayes was found guilty of three counts of felony murder; felony murder, multiple victims; murder, victim under 16 years old; four counts of first-degree kidnapping; three counts of murder; victim of kidnapping; sex-1 use of threat or force; murder, victim of sex assault 1; third-degree burglary; and assault with a weapon without discharging firearm.

On Tuesday, he was in the courtroom with family members who were hugging each other.

He said it does not bring back the home he and his family had, but it this brings some sense of relief.

 “I commend Dr. Petit and his extended family for the remarkable strength and dignity they have displayed throughout this agonizing ordeal – which, of course, will continue through the penalty phase, the trial of another suspect and the legal proceedings that are certain to follow," Rell said. "I know that the people of Connecticut will continue to keep the Petit and Hawke families in their thoughts and prayers in the months to come.”

Komisarjevsky faces trial next year. Both men face the possibility of the death penalty if convicted.   

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