Trial of Conn. home invasion suspect to resume Monday

Man accused along with one other of murdering a mother and her two daughters in 2007


NEW HAVEN, Conn. --

The first week of the trial of Cheshire home invasion suspect Steven Hayes, which proved to be emotionally stirring for both jurors and the victims' family, came to a close on Thursday.

The fourth day of testimony in Hayes' trial moved forward on Thursday despite Hayes suffering an apparent seizure Wednesday night.

Hayes' attorney said his client suffered seizure-like symptoms, but that they would move forward with the proceedings nonetheless. He said his client did not sleep Wednesday night, and Channel 3 Eyewitness News reporter Robert Goulston said Hayes appeared fatigued, stopping to rub his eyes for a two-minute interval at one point during Thursday's proceedings.

On Wednesday, dubbed by both local newspapers and the judge in the case as being "the hardest day," those who were first to respond to reports of the home invasion at the Cheshire home in 2007 took the stand, proving for an emotional afternoon for jurors and members of the Petit family.

“We have a lot of support. I’d like to thank people all over the country for their love and support,” Dr. William Petit, the sole survivor of the attack, said after court was adjourned Thursday. “Daily we get a lot of e-mails and texting, very supportive.”

Hayes, along with Joshua Komisarjevsky, is accused of invading the Petits' home during the early-morning hours of July 23, 2007, beating and binding Petit and killing his wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit and daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and Michaela. Prosecutors allege both Hawke-Petit and Michaela were sexually assaulted. Hayes, who prosecutors call a 47-year-old career criminal, is the first to go on trial.

Several jurors, along with members of the Petit family, broke down when photos of the bodies of Hawke Petit and her two daughters were shown on Wednesday. On Tuesday, one juror was dismissed after telling the judge it was too difficult to listen to the testimony.

Wednesday's proceedings were cut short after the judge acknowledged it had been a difficult day. The judge told jurors at the end of the day that they had been through the worst testimony and that it was OK to hug one another.

The timeline of the home invasion continued to be painted during Thursday's testimony, with members of the Connecticut State Police taking the stand first.

State Police Sgt. Karen Gabianelli testified about evidence gathered by her team at the scene.

Gabianellli said a beach-type bag filled with thee Bank of America envelopes and $15,000 in cash in three bundles was found the Petits' Chrysler Pacifica, in which prosecutors say Hayes and Komisarjevsky attempted to escape.

Monday's testimony included that of tellers at the Cheshire bank, who said Hawke-Petit informed them her family was being held hostage and that she had been told if she withdrew and gave them the cash requested, her family would be kept safe.

Gabianelli said Latex gloves, plastic tie wraps and a cotton mask with the eyes cut out were also found in the vehicle.

The sergeant told jurors that a red minivan registered to Komisarjevsky's mother was found at Quarry Village Road. She said a T-shirt matching the material from the cloth mask was found in the minivan. She said inside the van there were also pieces of fabric that matched what had been cut out to make the mask's eyes.

Testimony Heard On Use Of Accelerant

Gabianelli also talked about the use of accelerant inside the Petit home. Jurors were shown photos of Hayley's burned bed, with a piece of melted material, apparently used as a restraint, on the bed post. She said accelerant traces were found on the carpet in Hayley's bedroom and in the hallway outside her room. She said traces of accelerant were found on Hayley's shorts.

Containers, believed to have been used for gas, were found on both the home's first and second floors, Gabianelli said. She said both gas containers located on the home's second floor were melted.

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