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Conn. Home Invasion: "Shame, Depression" Cited as Mitigating Factors by Steven Hayes' Defense

Conn. Home Invasion: "Guilt, Remorse" Cited as Mitigating Factors in Bid to Avoid Death Penalty for Steven Hayes
Dr. William Petit Jr., left, with his daughters Michaela, front, Hayley, center rear, and his wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit (AP Photo/William Petit) AP Photo/William Petit

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CBS/AP) Steven Hayes has felt "shame, humiliation, depression, suicidality and empathy for the victims" since his arrest for the brutal murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two young daughters in 2007, according to his attorneys.

PICTURES: The Petit Family

The claims were part of a list of mitigating factors filed Wednesday, which the defense hopes will sway jurors to give their client life without parole instead of the death penalty.

Lawyers for both the state and Hayes are scheduled to make closing arguments Thursday before the jury begins deliberations, which are scheduled to begin Friday and may carry on into the weekend.

Hayes' response to the murders are "sharp in contrast to the co-defendant's [Joshua Komisarjevsky], who has glorified in writing the exercise of violent criminal power and sexual abuse over the Petit family," defense attorney Tom Ullmann wrote in the court documents filed Wednesday.

Throughout the trial the defense has attempted to shift the blame to Komisarjevsky, calling Hayes a follower and asserting that Komisarjevsky was the mastermind who escalated the violence. The defense also states that Hayes was in a "state of intense rage, despair and confusion" during the crimes, in reaction to the violent actions of Komisarjevsky.

The defense said Hayes fears life more than death and cited his abusive childhood and history of drug addiction.

The same jury that convicted Hayes on Oct. 6 must now weigh those factors against aggravating factors cited by prosecutors, including the heinous and cruel nature of the deaths, in deciding whether to sentence Hayes to death or life in prison.

Hayes was convicted of breaking into the Petit house, beating Hawke-Petit's husband William with a baseball bat and forcing her to withdraw money from a bank before Hayes strangled and sexually assaulted her. Their daughters, Michaela, 11, and Hayley, 17, died of smoke inhalation after they were tied to their beds and doused with gasoline before the house was set ablaze, according to testimony.

Dr. William Petit, the sole survivor, was able to escape.

Komisarjevsky faces a separate capital murder trial next year for his role in the murders in addition to the charge of sexually assaulting Michaela.