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Connecticut Home Invasion: Jury Begins Deliberating in Petit Family Murder Trial

Connecticut Home Invasion: Jurors Begin Deliberations in the Petit Family Capital Murder Trial
Petit Family (Personal Photo)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CBS/WFSB) The 12 jurors the state of Connecticut has put in charge of deciding the fate of Steven Hayes, one of two men charged in the brutal 2007 murder of three members of the Petit family, today begin the job of sifting through the evidence presented, including reviewing the harrowing testimony from Dr. William Petit, the lone survivor of that morning of terror.

PICTURES: Petit Family Murders

Hayes faces the death penalty if he is convicted on even one of the six capital charges against him. In all he faces 17 charges including multiple murder in the course of a single action, murder of a child under the age of 11, murder in the course of the commission of a first-degree sexual assault.

Prosecutors say that Hayes, along with a second man, Joshua Komisarjevsky, broke into the Petit home the morning of July 23, 2007, beat Dr. Petit and tied him to a pole in the basement. They then allegedly tied 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela to their beds and forced Jennifer Hawke-Petit to drive to a bank and withdrawal a large amount of money before Hayes allegedly raped and strangled her.

Prosecutors say the two men then set the house on fire - but not before Komisarjevsky raped Michaela and took pictures to commemorate the moment. They were apprehended just outside the Petit home while fleeing the burning house.

The blaze was apparently so intense that firefighters who tried to enter the house and save the Petit women had to retreat, according to testimony from the state fire inspector.

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

Hayes' attorney said in his closing arguments that Komisarjevsky escalated the violence and was the mastermind of the invasion.

Hayes' defense team admits that Hayes raped and strangled Hawke-Petit. But they contend the state did not prove during the eight days of testimony beyond a reasonable doubt that Hayes intended to cause the death of Hayley and Michaela, according to the Hartford Courant.

The prosecution countered that Hayes had multiple opportunities to stop the violence and that he ignored the screams and pleas that were more than likely coming from the two children while they were tied to their beds. They also say that Hayes purchased the gasoline that was used to set the house on fire, an act that ultimately killed the two girls, the paper reported.

The defense argued that their client did not light the match that started the blaze.

If they issue a conviction on the capital charges the same jury will then listen to arguments in the penalty phase to decide whether Hayes will get the death penalty.

Complete Coverage of the Petit Family Murders on Crimesider.

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