No Cost Argument During Hayes' Penalty Phase - NBC Connecticut

No Cost Argument During Hayes' Penalty Phase



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    The face of evil: Steven Hayes

    Defense attorneys for Steven Hayes will not be able to argue about the cost of the death penalty in trying to spare his life.

    In a four-page ruling issued on Thursday, New Haven Superior Court Judge Jon Blue denied a defense request to introduce testimony about the cost of the death penalty into next week's penalty phase in the capital case against Hayes. Instead, the judge agreed with objections from prosecutors to such testimony.

    Hayes was convicted on Oct. 5 of killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, while invading their Cheshire home in 2007.

    He was found guilty on 16 of 17 charges, six of which are capital offenses, which makes it possible that he could get the death penalty.

    In his ruling, Blue said cost is not a mitigating factor. He also referenced a Florida Supreme Court decision that called the issue a "political debate."

    In making their argument, defense attorneys for Hayes submitted a report from Dr. James Austin, which read, "The cost of imposing and carrying out a death sentence far exceeds the cost of a sentence of life without the possibility of release."

    The report also mentions that, "a natural life imprisonment sentence for Mr. Hayes will be considerably less expensive than seeking the death penalty." Dr. Austin says that's based on a 23-year life expectancy for Hayes, who is now 47 years old.

    In his decision, Judge Blue wrote, "Economic arguments tailored to specific individuals are not only irrelevant but perverse."

    Blue also mentions that courts have consistently denied requests for cost arguments in other capital cases.
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