Steven Hayes Smiles When Sentenced to Death for the Deadly Home Invasion

Steven Hayes was sentenced to death for the 2007 deadly home invasion.

ByABC News
November 8, 2010, 11:36 AM

NEW HAVEN, Conn. Nov. 8, 2010— -- Steven Hayes smiled as he was sentenced to death by a Connecticut jury today for his role in the deadly 2007 home invasion that killed Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters.

Lawyers for Hayes said that their client was "happy with the verdict" and had "got what he wanted."

"The fact of the matter is that a life sentence without the possibility of release is the most brutal punishment," said Thomas Ullmann. "For [Hayes], this is an easy way out."

The jury unanimously found the death penalty the appropriate punishment for Hayes' role in the triple murders. He was convicted of the murders last month, and a separate jury was empaneled to decided whether he should be condemned to death or spend the rest of his life in prison.

The verdict came halfway through day four of deliberation for the jury that spent the whole weekend holed up in a New Haven courtroom discussing the fate of Hayes, 47.

As the verdict was read, members of the Petit family, including Dr. William Petit, held their heads in their hands. While no outburst of emotion was heard, a court marshal offered a box of tissues to the Petit family.

Dr. Petit, the husband and father of the victims, was badly beaten with a bat, but was the only person to survive the attack on his Cheshire, Conn., home.

In an emotional press conference outside the courthouse, Dr. Petit told reporters that he was pleased justice was served.

"We all know that God will be the final arbiter and I think the defendant faces far more serious punishments from the Lord than he can ever face from mankind," he said.

"There were many, many sleepless nights and a lot of worry and agitation and a lot of tears," he said of the trial, which he attended everyday along with other members of his family and his wife's family.

Asked what he was thinking when the death penalty verdict was read, Dr. Petit answered, "I was crying for loss."

"Michaela was an 11-year-old little girl tortured and killed in her own bedroom, surrounded by stuffed animals," said Dr. Petit, breaking down as he spoke. "Hayley had a great future. She was a strong and courageous person, and Jennifer helped so many kids."