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Conn. Home Invasion Murders: Prosecution Witnesses Get Last Word In Penalty Phase for Steven Hayes

Connecticut Home Invasion Murder Trial: Prosecutors to Call Witnesses
Petit Family (Personal Photo)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CBS/WFSB/AP) Prosecutors in the fatal 2007 home invasion in Cheshire, Conn. will get the last word in the sentencing phase of the trial, before a jury decides whether or not Steven Hayes should be put to death for his role in the plot that killed three members of the Petit family.

PICTURES: The Petit Family

Prosecutors planned to call several witnesses to the stand Tuesday in New Haven Superior Court, reports CBS affiliate WFSB.

Defense attorneys rested their case Monday and hope their efforts are enough to convince the jury to spare Hayes' life.

Tom Ullmann, Hayes' attorney, plans to raise a legal challenge Tuesday claiming state law requires the same jury for the guilt and penalty phases of the trial, and the dismissal of a juror on Friday would go directly against that.

Superior Court Judge Jon Blue acknowledged the predicament, but posed the question of whether the phrase "the same jury" means the same 12 jurors or whether it can include alternates, as the Ohio Supreme Court ruled.

Prosecutors say Hayes and another ex-convict, Joshua Komisarjevsky, broke into the Petit house in July 2007, beat Hawke-Petit's husband, William, with a baseball bat, and forced her to withdraw money from a bank before Hayes strangled and sexually assaulted her.

Their daughters, 11-year-old Michaela and 17-year-old Hayley, died of smoke inhalation after they were tied to their beds with pillowcases over their heads and doused with gasoline before the house was set ablaze, according to testimony.