Restaurant Owner Threatened Over Hayes Testimony

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Christiane Gehami said she never wanted to testify in the penalty phase of Steven Hayes’ trial, but she was forced to. Now she is getting harassing phone calls and threatening e-mails, according to news reports.

People have also used commenting sections of online stories about the case to call for a boycott of Arugula, Gehami’s West Hartford restaurant, the Hartford Courant reports.

Hayes was convicted in the brutal home-invasion killings of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11. Now, a jury is deciding whether to sentence him to death or life in prison.

Gehami was forced, by court order, to the witness stand. And because of the fallout, she has called police.

"I wondered how they were going to use me to try to show a shred of humanity in this monster to keep him from the death penalty when I didn't even want to be there in the first place," Gehami told the Courant.

Gehami hired Hayes as a dishwasher and pantry cook in September 2006. He was living in a halfway house and trying to get sober through Narcotics Anonymous at the time.

What Gehami was unable to tell the jury, she told the Courant, was how Hayes would become angry when she tried to correct him and how he seemed depressed at times, as well as about the October 2006 day that he left the restaurant, she said, Hayes walked out about 5:15 p.m. during the dinner rush.

"People have to understand that just because someone is subpoenaed, it doesn't mean they are there as a witness trying to convince jurors to save someone's life. You're there because it's your civic duty as an American citizen," Gehami said.

Gehami said Hayes deserves the harshest possible punishment.

"If there's a hell," she said, "he'll be in it."

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