Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Connecticut Home Invasion Killer Asks to be Executed

Steven Hayes, one of the two men convicted of the horrific home invasion murders of a Cheshire, Conn., woman and her two daughters in 2007, has asked to waive his appeals and be put to death. In a letter to the Hartford Courant, Steven Hayes, 49, said that he cannot continue to live under the conditions to which he is subjected on death row at Northern Correctional Institution in Somers. ”I was willing to live with the intense grief from my past actions, and I still am willing,” wrote Hayes. “However, I cannot live with the intense tourcher (sic), torment, harassment, and the resulting psychological trauma dished out by the Dept. of Corr. staff here at Northern. I was sentenced to death, not sentenced to tourcher (sic) and punitive treatment until death.”

Steven Hayes, 49. Prison photo.

During his trial and that of his partner in crime, Joshua Komisarjevsky, Hayes spoke about his frequent suicide attempts and desire to die. Despite this, he said he promised his attorney, public defender Thomas J. Ullman, that he wouldn’t try to waive his appeals. “I promised Tom I wouldn’t do that,” said Hayes in a statement confirmed by Ullman. Now Hayes appears to be backing out on this promise. According to Michael Courtney, head of the state public defenders office’s capital defense unit which represents Hayes, ”It’s not uncommon for death-row inmates who are held in isolation with little or no connection to the outside world or independent mental-health treatment to deteriorate to the point of considering volunteering for execution.”

Earlier this year, Hayes revealed a plan to commit suicide using oysters. In court and in a letter from prison, Hayes had claimed that Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters weren’t his only victims.  He had killed 17 people, he said, mostly runaways, prostitutes and hitchhikers.  Then, in an interview with the Hartford Courant, Hayes admitted he’d made the other killings up as part of an attempt at suicide.  He wanted police to become interested in his claims of other murders and offer to trade him food for information.  Hayes, who is deathly allergic to oysters, was planning to ask for a pepperoni pizza, a bottle of soda and a dozen oysters.  ”I planned to eat them and have them find me dead in my cell the next morning,” he  told the Hartford Courant.

In 2011, the Connecticut state legislature and Governor Dan Malloy voted to repeal capital punishment. The new bill, however, left death sentences intact for the ten existing men on the state’s death row.  The cruel nature of Hayes’ and Komisarjevsky’s crimes was a major argument in favor of that provision.

A Nightmare in Connecticut: The Petit Family Murders



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