"You Have Been Exposed to Images of Depravity and Horror that No Human Being Should Have to See"
The Associated Press is reporting that jurors in New Haven Superior Court voted unanimously to send Steven Hayes to death row after deliberating over four days. Hayes was convicted of a night of terror inside a suburban home where a woman was strangled and her two daughters were tied to their beds, sexually assaulted and left to die in a gasoline-fueled fire. The home invasion generated national attention.
The judge, in thanking the jurors for their service, said, "You have been exposed to images of depravity and horror that no human being should have to see."
William Petit Jr., the husband and father of the victims, said the verdict was not about revenge. "Vengeance belongs to the Lord," Dr. Petit said. "This is about justice. We need to have some rules in a civilized society." He also said it wouldn't bring closure, saying whoever came up with the concept was "an imbecile," according to the Associated Press.
Defense attorney Tom Ullmann said Mr. Hayes, who had attempted suicide while incarcerated, smiled at the verdict. "He is thrilled with the verdict. That's what he wanted all along," his lawyer said.
According to the Associated Press, jurors were divided over whether Mr. Hayes really wanted a death sentence, but that argument did not play a big role in the deliberations. An early jury note indicated a division over a claim that Mr. Hayes was mentally impaired at the time of the crime turned out to be just a hypothetical example of a vote.
Mr. Hayes will be only one of ten men on Connecticut's death row. The state has only executed one man in the last 50 years. His accomplice, Joshua Komisarjevsky, will be tried next year. He also faces the death penalty. The Associated Press reported that prosecutors rejected offers by both men to plead guilty in exchange for life terms, their attorneys have said.
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