Steven Hayes was just convicted on 16 of the 17 felony counts against him, including the murders of Jennifer, Hayley and Michaela Petit.
He was acquitted of a single arson charge, thus explaining the Jury's earlier questions regarding Hayes pouring of gas at the murder scene.
They wanted to know if this action alone, which Hayes admitted to doing, equated with
" setting a fire." To this query, Judge Blue answered a rather unequivocal "No", at which point the Jury went back to their deliberations, and everyone else in the waiting gallery went back to holding their collective breath. As it turned out, they didnt have much longer to wait.
At approximately 12:35 p.m the Jury sent out a note that they had reached a verdict.
And the charges were read as follows
Here are the counts against Hayes, followed by verdicts returned so far. Each capital felony count is punishable by death, although that would be decided in the penalty phase of the trial.
COUNT 1 Murder (Jennifer Hawke-Petit): Guilty
COUNT 2 Murder (Hayley Petit): Guilty
COUNT 3 Murder (Michaela Petit): Guilty
COUNT 4 Capital Felony (murders of two or more victims): Guilty
COUNT 5 Capital Felony (Michaela Petit's death, murder of child under 16): Guilty
COUNT 6 First-Degree Kidnapping (Dr. Petit): Guilty
COUNT 7 First-Degree Kidnapping (Jennifer Hawke-Petit): Guilty
COUNT 8 First-Degree Kidnapping (Hayley Petit): Guilty
COUNT 9 First-Degree Kidnapping (Michaela Petit): Guilty
COUNT 10 Capital Felony (the murder of Jennifer Hawke-Petit during the course of a kidnapping): Guilty
COUNT 11 Capital Felony (the murder of Hayley Petit in the course of a kidnapping): Guilty
COUNT 12 Capital Felony (the murder of Michaela Petit in the course of a kidnapping): Guilty
COUNT 13 First-degree sexual assault (Jennifer Hawke-Petit): Guilty
COUNT 14 Capital Felony (murder of Jennifer Hawke-Petit during the course of a first-degree sexual assault): Guilty
COUNT 15 Third-degree burglary: Guilty
COUNT 16 First-degree arson: NOT Guilty
COUNT 17 Second-degree assault (Dr. Petit): Guilty
A mixture of relief and a yet a cloying grief still pervades not only the Petit and Hawke families but all of us who have had a heart-felt interest in these crimes, and the Judicial outcome.
And while of course a guilty verdict on nearly every count is what everyone
had hoped for, as Dr Petit said, when he was asked if he felt relieved now, "there is of course a sense of relief, but.. at the same time, it doesn't bring my family back" "it doesn't bring our home back"
His father, William Petit Sr. put his hand comfortingly on his son's shoulder throughout the entire post verdict interview.This gesture was really quite dear and spoke volumes. He was flanked by his stalwart sister Joanne Petit Chapman,looking drained but relieved, his brother and a gaggle of other family members.
In his usual gracious fashion, he thanked everyone in the state pf Connecticut and beyond, who has been so very supportive of him and his family throughout the three long years since these horrible crimes happened. Here is the video of Bill Petits post verdict press interview in its entirety.
The next step in the process is the penalty phase of the trial which Judge Blue stated will begin on October 18th, giving the Petit and Hawke family's a short break to rest and recharge a bit. This is when the Judge and the Jury will hear from the Defense and the prosecution regarding why the defendant should receive the Death Penalty or life in prison, and each side gives reasons to back up those requests.
Technically speaking, a defendant need only be convicted of one capital felony in order for a Jury to give the Death Penalty - Steven Hayes has been convicted of a total of seven. However,
Connecticut is a notoriously cautious state insofar as the mere pursuit of the death penalty, let alone the actual awarding of it.. Yet there have been many articles written and several polls taken and the public sentiment is a resounding " if ever there was a set of crimes that deserve the death penalty, the Petit family murders are the one."
Note; The photo above was taken during last years festival of lights in Cheshire Connecticut, an annual charity event that was originally started to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis but after the crimes became more of a celebartion of the thre Petit " Girls" lives.