Oct. 20, 2010 -- Steven Hayes, the man trying to avoid the death penalty for his role in the greusome triple murder during a Connecticut home invasion, has tried to kill himself multiple times while behind bars, according to court testimony heard today.
Dr. Paul Amble, a Yale University professor of psychiatry who conducted a four hour evaluation of Hayes earlier this year, testified that the defendent has made multiple attempts to commit suicide while incarcerated, once as recently as August of this year.
Amble told the court that Hayes tried to kill himself "several times" prior to the Petit murders, and admitted to wanting to die after the July 2007 triple murder as well.
"[Hayes] described his persistent desire to die were because of his feelings of guilt, remorse and his condition of confinement," said Amble.
Since entering the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution, Hayes has attempted to overdose on a variety of pills. In October 2007, prison authorities found 20 pills that Hayes had hoarded in his cell and in January 2009 puncture wounds on his left forearm were spotted.
In January, Hayes "ingested a toxic level of thorazine," an anti-psychotic drug that Amble testified Hayes was not prescribed.
In August, just a month before his trial was slated to begin, Hayes tried to overdose on Ibuprofen, according to Amble.
Hayes told Amble that he often fantasized about killing himself, and even thought about sticking his head in the toilet in his cell and doing a back flip, presumably to break his neck.
Entering prison at 200 lbs, Hayes has since lost 70 lbs, in part because of his paranoia that the prison staff was "contaminating his food."
Hayes, unlike his lawyers, told Amble that he'd prefer the death penalty to life spent in prison.
The details of Hayes' life in prison and suicide attempts come a day after the jury considering whether to condemn him to death heard the twisted reasoning of Hayes' co-defendant about how the home invasion morphed into a horrifying massacre.
The jury Tuesday heard wrenching journal entries byJoshua Komisarjevsk in an attempt by the defense to spare Hayes' life and paint Komisarjevsky as the alleged ringleader.
"I think it may backfire on the defense," criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor Rikki Klieman told "Good Morning America" today.
"It all spills over on Steven Hayes. They are both depraved," said Klieman, who is not involved in the trial but has been following the case. "I think it's a high-risk game, and the roll of the dice may not go their way."
"This," she said of the 2007 crimes against the Petit family," is the worst of the worst."
Tuesday's dramatic reading of Komisarjevsky's writings included details of the last minutes of the lives of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11.
"Hayley is a fighter. She continually tried time and time again to free herself," he wrote. "Michaela was calm. Mrs. Petit's courage was, is, to be respected. She could have stayed inside the bank where she was safe."
He also railed against the sole survivor of the Cheshire, Conn., attack, Dr. William Petit, who, although badly beaten, was able to free himself from his basement and make his way to a neighbor's house for help.
"Mr. Petit is a coward, he ran away when he felt his own life was threatened," Komisarjevsky wrote. "Time and time again I gave him the chance to save his family."
William Petit, who has attended every day of the court hearings, sat stoically through the accusation.
"I really don't want to dignify the ravings of a sociopath," he said outside court Tuesday.
Klieman said Komisarjevsky's cruel words toward the Petit patriarch will likely only strengthen the jury's sympathy for William Petit, the man they saw sitting in court every day of Hayes' trial as the murders and the rape of his wife and youngest daughter were recounted in chilling detail.
"To call him [Petit] names, to denigrate him, to debase him as a human being, I think, is a terrible thing for the jury to hear," she said.
She also questioned the defense's repeated recounting of Hayes' life before the 2007 home invasion as a drug addict and burglar.
"That is supposed to make us feel sympathetic?" she said. "I don't think so."
Hayes, 47, was convicted earlier this month on 16 felony counts. Komisarjevsky, 30, will be tried separately.
Joshua Komisarjevsky's Musings on the Petit Murders Heard in Hayes' Sentencing
The judge allowed Hayes' defense attorneys to present 43 pages of Komisarjevsky's letters and diary to help the jury determine the culpability of each man and their "relative evil."
"I'm not an angel," Komisarjevsky wrote. "I've never claimed to be. The scars on my soul have forever defined me as different than others."
Komisarjevsky said that he "resented" the implication that he raped Michaela and wrote that he had "spared her that degree of demoralization." Admitting that he did in fact sexually assault her, Komisarjevsky wrote, "In a vulgar display of power, I ejaculated onto her."
"As for why? It was the accumulation of years of pent up aggression," he wrote.
Komisarjevsky admits in the journal to taking photos of Michaela after the assault, images he wrote that he planned to use to blackmail her parents.
"What I was not prepared for was my demons getting the better of me," he wrote.
Hayley was the fighter of the family, according to Komisarjevsky, who claimed the father was "passive" toward saving his family.
"If you don't want to defend your family, then take your chances with the criminal while police sit outside and follow protocol," wrote Komisarjevsky.
Turning some of the blame on Hayes, Komisarjevsky wrote, "When Steve took the life of Mrs. Petit, he took it to a whole new level."
"I am what I am and make no excuses," he wrote. "I am a criminal with a criminal's mind, and my anticipated death sentence will be a sentence of mercy."
The composition notebooks that contained Komisarjevsky's writings were discovered by Rafael Medina, a detective for the Connecticut State Police, who testified that he was alerted in July 2008 that Komisarjevsky was corresponding with author Brian McDonald, who wrote "In the Middle of the Night: The Shocking True Story of a Family Killed in Cold Blood" about the Petit murders.
Four journals were seized from Komisarjevsky's prison cell. McDonald deposited $100 into Komisarjevsky's prison bank account at least three times and the two men exchanged as many as 11 letters.
In his journals Komisarjevsky claims that once he started beating Dr. Petit it "released a leash too hard to rein back in."
"I was faced with the shocking realization that in some respects, I enjoy it," he wrote. "They were experiencing what I experience every day."
Komisarjevsky appears to question his actions, writing, "I am not proud of the outcome of July 23."
The journals also depict a sense of regret by Komisarjevsky, who writes, "Michaela, angel of my nightmares. My pain to yours does not compare. How could I have turned my back walking out that door knowing your fear and sorrow?"
"Michaela, Haley, Jennifer - forgive me please," he writes. "I am damned, take my life."
Gruesome Diaries of Accused Petit Killer
Prosecutors dismissed Komisarjevsky's writings as figments of his imagination that depicted "the world according to Josh."
Parts of the letters written by Komisarjevsky read as how-to guide to burglary. He writes, "French doors are a pain in my a.. and not worth my time."
"I'm a burglar, everyone knows I'm a burglar," he boasts in the letters. "[I can] get into any building I put my mind to."
"If the house has kids or the neighborhood has a lot of play sets, the location of the bus stop is important," Komisarjevsky wrote. "I check to see if there is a neighborhood watch program."
"Every home has its own unique noises," he said. "I memorize these sounds and mimic them as I move through the house."
Komisarjevsky describes in the letters how he'd always wear black turtlenecks during robberies and would linger on the property he was targeting so he could catch a glimpse of the alarm code as the homeowner enters it. Then he comes back in the morning, "makes certain no one is home, and the burglary begins," he wrote.
"If you look like you belong, then you're invisible," he wrote.
After the burglaries, Komisarjevsky said he'd often go out, writing that he "likes strippers."
Earlier testimony focused on Hayes when a witness described the convicted rapist and killer as often being "vulgar" toward women and said he would shout crude remarks to women they passed on the street.
Philip Theed, a building contractor who briefly employed Hayes in 2007, was one several witnesses called to the stand by the defense lawyers in an attempt to spare the murderer's life.
Theed told the jury today during several long car rides with Hayes to and from work the conversation would turn to sex.
"He made comments that he particularly liked oral sex," said Theed, adding that it was, on occasion, "vulgar and rude."
Several times Hayes would yell at women working at the condos where they were doing construction in a "sexually suggestive way."
"He would just speak of his desires for women and liking oral sex and he had the hots for sort of Latino women who were working at the condos," said Theed.
Theed lent his car to Hayes in the days leading up the invasion of the Petit home in Cheshire, Conn.
The sentencing phase of Hayes' trial began Monday with the convict's lawyers asking the jury to have an "open mind" when it came to determining his punishment.
"You will learn that he has a long criminal history of being a burglar and a thief and a person who has for a long period of time in his life [had] a serious drug abuse addiction," public defender Patrick Culligan said. "You will also learn he could be a good worker ... he could be a likable person."