Note; For new readers seeking information about the Petit family murders and/or the current trial "The State of Connecticut vs Steven Hayes", it is advisable to start with the archives section beginning in Sept 2007 . This is when I first began writing about these local crimes.
The Petit family murder trial was cut short Thursday afternoon due to medical issues that Steven Hayes was reportedly experiencing stemming from a seizure-like occurrence that he'd his prison cell Wednesday evening.
It is worth noting that Wednesday was the same day that some extremely graphic and upsetting testimony and evidence was shared in court in the case against Hayes. In an address to the jury, Judge Blue conveyed that this was likely the worst day of the Trial for them and implied that they could relax a bit knowing that the most difficult part of the trial was behind them.
The upsetting evidence consisted of testimony from the police officer that found the burnt bodies of eleven year old Michaela Petit, with her arms still tied to her bed, and her sister Hayley who having managed to break free of her binds, was heartbreakingly enough found just outside the bathroom, likely caught up in the smoke and flames once she broke free.
Forty eight year old Jennifer Hawke Petit was found in the living room, her body also charred, with rope remnants around her neck and feet.
The testimony was accompanied by photos of the victims bodies, which were made privy only to members of the jury, many of whom cried and showed obvious horrified emotion as the photos were passed to each member.
Judge blue wisely cut short the days proceedings after this testimony was complete, citing that the worst was over and giving what amounted to a compassionate pep talk to the jury. Blue has been in fact, notably attentive and empathetic with the Jury in this case.
It was later this same evening that Steven Hayes, on trial for these brutal murders and the sexual assault of Jennifer Hawke Petit, reportedly experienced a seizure like occurrence in his prison cell.
Hayes, who sat in the front row flanked by his Attorneys throughout the extremely graphic and upsetting testimony, showed no emotion whatsoever, as members of the Jury, as well as the Petit family were clearly shaken and some openly sobbing.. Even members of the press as well the general public who managed to get into the days crowded courtroom proceedings, were also visibly upset as the testimony was heard and the accompanying photos were distributed and the Jury's painful recoiling so overt.
Hayes did manage to attend the following day's court proceedings, after his "seizure" this having been announced to the press by his attorneys. Appearing somewhat tired he sat through half of the days testimony, which largely consisted of his attorney Thomas Ulmann's cross examination of the Police officers who were on the scene the morning of the murders.
The direction Ullmann appeared to be clearly going was to shift blame onto the Cheshire Police department for not entering the Petit home sooner. Be that as it may it remained rather questionable a tactic as whether or not the Cheshire Police responded "properly" to a vaguely reported hostage situation, as it clearly did not morally and more importantly legally alleviate any criminal culpability or liability from his client- A man who spent that morning extorting 15000,from Jennifer Hawke Petit instructing her that it would buy her family's safe release, only to turn on her the moment he returned to the house where her children lay tied to their beds and her husband half conscious tied to a pole in their basement.
After turning on her, Hayes immediately sexually assaulted Mrs Petit - within earshot of her two likely terrified and helpless daughters upstairs, one of whom was just sexually assaulted by his accomplice while Hayes was out procuring the "ransom money" from Mrs Petit at the bank. After sexually assaulting her. Hayes strangled Jennifer Petit to death, while his accomplice watched.
They then fetched some tanks of gasoline that Mr Hayes himself had erranded out to purchase earlier that same morning, (Showing full pre-meditation for the murders) and he and Komisarjevsky set about pouring the gasoline in a path leading from the girls rooms splashing onto them and their bedding where they each lay helplessly tied in their individual bedrooms.
Imagine the terror.
The men proceeded to light the gas trail and run as fast as they could to escape the exploding flames, they jumped into one of the Petit's family cars, toting Jennifer Petit's Beachbag filled with money and drove off\madly. Police reports say that the men were laughing as they ran out of the house with Steven Hayes wearing Hayley Petit's School hat atop his shaved head.
Hayes has lost about 40 lbs since the crimes and has let his hair grow in keeping it neatly cropped, no doubt at the urging of his defense attorneys, who have him looking like a veritable schoolboy in the courtroom. This certainly compared to his appearance at the time of the crimes when he was an imposing 180 lbs with a shaved head and a menacing stare seen here in the mugshot at the Cheshire Police dept shortly after the murders.
The men were quickly apprehended by The Cheshire Police as they ran into two police car roadblocks nearly striking a detective who was approaching the house in response to a scream he heard inside. The Cheshire PD has spent the last fifteen -twenty minutes setting up a perimeter around the Petit's home - precious minutes that in retrospect conceivably could have saved the lives of the girls. However this was standard protocol in hostage situations as per the 911 call from the Bank manager where Mrs Petit wthdrew the funds believing she was buying her familys freedom.
The time lapse issue has become the subject of much dissension and conflict ever since details of the actual Police timeline of the crimes emerged. One thing is for certain however, no matter the actions of the Cheshire Police dept. Steven J Hayes intended to and indeed carried out sexual assault and triple murder on the morning of July 23rd 2007.
Court proceedings were halted midday Thursday due to reported health issues sufferred by Mr Hayes, this as his attorneys conveyed to the court and media. The prosecution did not object. Court is to resume on Monday morniing.