Steven Hayes was found guilty today in the deadly home invasion that left a woman and her two daughters brutalized and murdered, making him eligible for the death penalty.
The jury deliberated for several hours before finding Hayes guilty of 16 of the 17 counts he faced. Hayes was convicted of six capital crimes, including the murder and kidnapping of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, all of which are punishable by execution.
As the verdict was read, Dr. William Petit, the only survivor of the slaughter, clutched his sister but remained stoic. Relatives of his slain wife wept while Hayes hung his head.
Hayes, 47, was quickly handcuffed and led out of the courtroom by officers.
As he left the courthouse, Petit thanked the jury for their "appropriate verdict" and said he and his family had kept their "faith in God that justice would be served."
"There is some relief, but my family is still gone. [The verdict] doesn't bring them back, it doesn't bring back the home that we had, but certainly a guilty verdict is a much better sense of relief than a verdict of not guilty," said Petit.
Petit still faces a penalty trial to determine whether Hayes is to be executed or face life in prison. That is scheduled to begin on Oct. 18.
Petit made clear he will also attend the trial for Hayes' accomplice although he said he gets a "little nausea" each time he heads to court to hear the grisly details of his family's murders.
"If your family was destroyed by evil, you would be there for your family. It's the only thing you can do for your family," said Petit.
"Do I look foward to this every day? No," said Petit. "But I do it for my family and I think all of you would do the same thing for your families."
Rev. Richard Hawke, the father of Petit-Hawke, told press gathered by the Connecticut courtroom, ""We are pleased with the verdict… We feel justice is being served."
Hayes was not convicted of first degree arson, a charge that the jury had questioned the judge about during deliberations. Asked by the jury whether Hayes' pouring gasoline in the Petit's home was the same thing as lighting a match, the judge had answered "no."
Petit said he couldn't comment on the not guilty charge and whether he was disappointed by it because he wasn't sure "he understood it."
Only one individual has been executed in Connecticut since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. That execution occurred in 2005 and was of serial killer Michael Ross, also known as the Roadside Strangler.
If sentenced to die, Hayes will join 10 others who are currently on Connecticut's death row.
Asked whether it matters to him what happens to Hayes now that he's been branded a convicted killer, Petit responded, "What matters to me most is my family and my memories of my family."
Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell released a statement on the verdict writing, "The murders of the Petit family horrified and disgusted us all, almost beyond the ability of words to convey. Today's verdicts are a measure of justice – but they can never begin to restore the promise lost on that terrible day in July. That grief may ebb over time but it can never be fully expunged."
Hayes is one of two men accused of killing the three Petit women in July 2007. Joshua Komisarjevsky, Hayes' alleged accomplice, will stand trial next year.