Hours after grisly evidence was presented in court detailing the rape and burning deaths of a woman and two young girls, the man accused of committing those crimes suffered seizure-like symptoms, his lawyer has told the court.
The trial of Steven Hayes has been halted until Monday because of the accused killer's medical condition.
Hayes, 47, is on trial for the 2007 home invasion of Dr. William Petit Cheshire, Conn. A second man, Joshua Komisarjevsky, 30, is also charged with the crime and will be tried at a later date.
The two men are accused of beating Petit, raping and torturing his wife Jennifer Hawke-Petit along with the couple's two daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11.
Petit escaped and went for help, but the females were bound to their beds and died in a fire that was allegedly set by Hayes and Komisarjevsky.
On Wednesday, jurors were presented with gruesome evidence of the murder scene, including the girls' burned bodies and their charred beds. The evidence left jurors clearly shaken, with several sobbing while inspecting the photos.
Thomas Ullman, chief public defender for Hayes, told the court Thursday that his client had suffered "seizure-like symptoms" and had urinated on himself Wednesday night, but was healthy enough for Thursday's hearing. After Thursday's lunch break, however, Ullman asked the court to delay continuation of the trial until Monday due to Hayes' "medical status," the New Haven Register reported. The prosecution did not object.
It is not clear what caused Hayes' physical break-down. It's not known whether Hayes has a history of seizures and because the judge has imposed a gag order on the case, his lawyer was not available to speak about it.
During Thursday's testimony, the Cheshire police captain defended the department's response at the scene of the home invasion .
Capt. Robert Vignola acknowledged that a half-hour passed between the time police first learned of the break-in, and the time they saw the two accused murderers run out of the house, get into the Petit's car, and try to escape. It was only then that police noticed the house was on fire.
Vignola said there was no sign of activity inside when police arrived, and that they set up a perimeter around the Petit house, in accordance with standard procedure. He said that if he had known what was going on inside, "I would have been the first one through that door," The Associated Press reported.
Vignola's testimony came after jurors listened to a recording of a 911 call, made by the manager at the Bank of America branch in Cheshire, where Hawke-Petiti had gone to withdraw $15,000 in hopes of placating her assailants.
"We have a lady who is in our bank right now who says that her husband and children are being held at their house," the manager told a 911 operator during the July 2007 incident. "The people are in a car outside the bank. She is getting $15,000 to bring out to them. [She says] that if the police are told that they will kill the children and the husband.
"They told her they wouldn't hurt anybody if she got back there with the money," the caller said. "She believes them."