In an interesting last- minute request, Attorney Ullmann filed a motion with the court that one of the Homicide charges against his client covering the Petit girls murders, to be changed to Arson Murder, which would then imply that Hayes didn't intend to kill Hayley and Michaela Petit in the fire.
But by asking for this change in the charge, Ullmann automatically infers that Hayes took part in setting the fires, perhaps even lighting the match - something that has been looming large as an unanswered question and has thus remained a big mystery: Which man set the fire, who lit the match?
Personally, I was surprised that the men were not automatically brought to a forensics lab that could have tried to determine who was likely to have ignited the gasoline trail - perhaps the FBI could have assisted the Cheshire police if no immediate areas contained a facility capable of this kind of forensic analysis, analysis key to this case.
I know that both men were wearing Gloves when they were arrested. Komsiarjevsky had surgical gloves on. I know that Hayes wreaked of gasoline and one of the mens shoes appeared to be burnt. That person is likely the culprit of the ignition , but we've heard nothing to this end and the testimony is over.
I am certain that pouring the Gasoline alone is enough to be criminally complicit in the murders of the Girls and with Hayes admitting to his cell- mate that he only poured gas in the "hallway" leads me to believe that his attorney is going to claim that he didn't pour the gasoline directly on the girls, probably inferring at least that co-defendant Joshua Komisarejevsky did this the most repulsive and criminally liable action-as it shows full afore-thought and intention to kill Hayely and Michaela Petit.
(*See yesterdays Post regarding the Guards testimony)
In any event, Judge Blue said no such luck. Incidentally, Arson Murder carries a lighter sentence than the two counts of murder in the first degree that Hayes is charged with for the children's deaths: Ullmann is doing whatever he can think of to try to deconstruct the amount of Capital charges and aggravating factors that his client is charged with,
The children's murders and their suffering are what really make this entire case "heinous" and the more capital charges and aggravating factors within those charges equals a greater chance that his client will receive a death penalty verdict within the penalty phase. Therefore this move on Ullmanns behalf, gives us a peek into what his closing argument might look like.
In the meantime, lead Prosecutor Michael Dearington asked the court for more time for his closing argument, citing the mountain of evidence that must be covered. Judge Blue granted the extra time, despite the Defense's quick objection. ( Ullmann probably objects reflexively in his sleep).
Closing arguments will begin Friday morning with the State presenting their argument first. There is an old dictum that whoever is the last to close has the advantage, as the sentiment/message covered last will tend to sit with the jury longer and in this case being on a Friday, the defenses assertions could sit with them all weekend before they are given their formal charges/instructions re deliberations on Monday morning. This will likely take most of the day as the Judge must instruct the jury upon each of the charges filed against Steven Hayes.
Although many a seasoned prosecutor/lawyer has been trotted out to say that there is no such thing as a slam dunk for any prosecution on any case, no matter how overt the defendants guilt nor damning the evidence may seem, I still believe that we can throw away the proverbial last guy to argue edge in this case. Besides I believe that Ullmann is saving his zeal for the penalty phase of the trial, same as he did in the Jonathon Mills case, which eerily had all of the same players as this case including Ullmann, Dearington and Judge Blue.
The mills case was also a triple murder involving children. In that case Ullmann argued most aggressively during the penalty phase of that trial--citing a myriad of Mitigating factors" which are required in order for a Jury to ask for leniency in sentencing the defendant in such cases. He used evidence of Mills' childhood abuse, drug addiction and alleged impairment during the crimes-the latter was found not verifiable by the Jury, but Mills was spared the Death Penalty nonetheless and received life without the chance of parole instead.
No doubt that Thomas Ullmann, a high profile local anti-death penalty activist, felt vindicated in" saving another child murderer from what was his criminal accountability.