Petit Murder Case: Attorney Asks Death Penalty Jury to Relive 'Night of Hell'

In closing argument, Steven Hayes' attorney blamed media's "thirst for blood."

ByABC News
November 1, 2010, 12:09 PM

NEW HAVEN, Conn. Nov. 4, 2010— -- A Connecticut jury today was asked one more time to go through the "night of hell" that ended with the murders of a mother and her two daughters as the hands of a man the state is trying to execute.

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."