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.
The emotional and at time gruesome three-week trial culminated in emotional closing arguments last week, with Hayes' lawyer trying to pin the majority of the blame on Komisarjevsky.
"He's guilty of sexual assault of Mrs. Petit. There isn't any question about that," defense attorney Thomas Ullman said of Hayes, but quickly added, "He kills Jennifer Petit at the request of Joshua Komisarjevsky."
"Steven Hayes is no angel," Ullman said. "But he's not the one who controlled the escalation of violence. That's Joshua Komisarjevsky."
The trial was alternately grisly and heartbreaking as the prosecution described, often in detail, how Hayes and Komisarjevsky broke into the Petit's upscale Cheshire home in July 2007 and held them captive for hours, eventually raping Hawke-Petit and Michaela, pouring gasoline in the bedrooms, and setting the house on fire with the daughters tied to their beds.
Only the father, Dr. William Petit, survived. Brutally beaten and left bound in the basement, he managed to make his way out to a neighbor's home.
Petit has sat in the courtroom through almost all of the trial, openly crying when jurors were shown pictures of his slain wife and children, and walking out as the medical examiner testified how Petit's 11-year-old daughter was brutalized.
State's Attorney Michael Dearington told jurors that Hayes was equally guilty for the carnage, saying they could "count the opportunities that [Hayes] had to walk away from this."
"He said, 'Things got out of control," Dearington said. "It wasn't things. It was them. They were out of control."
"What was a vibrant house of people at 9 o'clock became a house of terror and horror," Dearington said.
Dearington blasted the defense for trying to convince the jury that Hayes simply got caught up in the moment.
"There's no way to recreate the fear, the terror, the horror that those girls experienced in their last few minutes," Dearington said.
"Did Mr. Hayes have a motive to have those two girls killed? Yes he did," he added. "These two defendants acted together to commit these crimes."
The details exposed during Hayes' trial were gruesome and disturbing, from the text messages allegedly sent between Hayes and Komisarjevsky to the fire that ravaged the building and its occupants that July day.
Testimony revealed that Hawke-Petit had been strangled to death after she'd been raped, while Hayley and Michaela died of smoke inhalation.
Computer and technology expert John Farnham was shown eight pictures off Komisarjevsky's cell phone, taken while he and defendant Hayes allegedly assaulted their victims.