Jury Recommends Death Penalty for Man Convicted of Petit Murders
All eyes were on the Connecticut courtroom where the killer who slaughtered a doctor's entire family learned his fate.
Steven Hayes heard the death sentence pronounced for the brutal murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, Hayley and Michaela, during a horrific home invasion.
The sole survivor of the massacre, Dr. William Petit, sat in the front row of the courtroom, his eyes filling with tears.
Outside the courthouse, Dr. Petit spoke to reporters. "Michaela was an 11-year-old little girl...tortured and killed in her own bedroom, you know, surrounded by her stuffed animals and Hayley had a great future and was a strong and courageous person," he said solemnly.
Jennifer Hawke-Petit's father, Reverend Richard Hawke, told reporters, "There are just some people who do not deserve to live in God's world," in reaction to the death penalty sentencing.
As he was sentenced, Hayes stared straight ahead, stone-faced.
Alaine Griffin of the Hartford Courant told INSIDE EDITION what she witnessed in the courtroom when Hayes heard the sentence.
"He didn't look at the jury, he just looked straight ahead, members of the Petit family were crying, Dr. Petit, he also was crying...it was a very sad moment in the courtroom, yet you could feel that there was a definite relief that Steven Hayes would be put to death," she said.
Even the killer's own brother, Matthew Hayes, had written a letter saying that Hayes deserved to die. "There is enough to hang him without any family involvement. As the family of this monster, we all have to live with the nightmares," he wrote.
Hayes himself was reportedly "thrilled" to get the death penalty. A defense attorney said, "He's happy. That's what he wanted. He wants to die. He can't kill himself, he's tried. The jury gave him what he wants.
"There's never closure, there's a hole, you know the way I've imagined it, straight through it's a hole with jagged edges and over time the edges may smooth out a little bit, but the hole in your heart and the hole in your soul is still there," Dr. Petit told reporters after the sentencing.
Over the weekend, the Petit family was remembered at a candlelight vigil in their hometown.
There will be a second trial next year for Hayes's alleged accomplice, Joshua Komisarjevsky, who is also charged with kidnapping, murder, and rape.