In his closing argument this morning, Connecticut State's Attorney Gary Nicholson, requested the jurors consider what Jennifer Hawke-Petit was thinking the night convicted murdererSteven Hayes "choked the life out of her."
"Were they in psychological pain?" Nicholson asked as photographs of a smiling Hawke-Petit and her two murdered daughters, Hayley, 17 and Michaela, 11, were shown. "Were they tortured? Of course they were."
State's Attorney Michael Dearington showed the jury one final photograph of the Petit family. Several friends and Petit family members bowed their heads and started quietly sobbing, holding tissues to their faces.
Dearington ended by saying, "There were two beautiful girls, one loving mother and one family destroyed."
The state is pushing for Hayes -- convicted of 16 felony counts relating to the 2007 home invasion at the Petit house -- to be handed the death penalty for his role in the murders and the rapes of Hawke-Petit and Michaela.
The defense has spent more than two weeks calling witnesses that have painted Hayes as a bumbling burglar who got swept up by co-defendant Joshua Komisarjevsky's decision to turn the home invasion from what was meant to be a big money score to a murderous rampage.
Komisarjevsky, 30, is scheduled to stand trial early next year.
"The law in Connecticut reserves the death penalty for the ultimate worst crimes -- the worst of the worst," Nicholson said. "If there ever was a case where the facts and the law required the death penalty this is it."
"Furthermore," he said "justice demands it."
In order for the state to get its death penalty ruling, the jury, which is expected to be charged later today, must find him guilty of several aggravating factors beyond just committing the crime, according to the state.
Those aggravating factors included committing the murders during the commission of third-degree burglary as well as committing the offenses in a "heinous manner, extreme physical or psychological pain above and beyond that which was necessary" and with "grave risk."
But defense attorney Thomas Ullman implored jurors to rise above the "bloodlust" when they deliberate, accusing intense media coverage of the case of causing "thirst for blood in the air."
In a dramatic move, Ullman asked his client to stand up before the court.
"This is a human being. You may not like him ... but he is not a rabid dog," Ullman said, comparing Hayes' existence to that of a "rat in a cage."
He also told the jury that if they wanted to punish Hayes, a life sentence would be more cruel for Hayes to endure than execution.
"If you want to end Steven Hayes' torment you should kill him," Ullman said."Iif you want to end his misery and overwhelming guilt and nightmares about this case, you should kill him ... that would be the easy way out for him."
Giving him life in prison would sentence him to a life of misery, Ullman argued.
Ullman ended his remarks by quoting Martin Luther King Jr. "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands at moments of comfort," he said, "but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
The sentencing phase of the trial has not been without drama.