Trial of Conn. home invasion suspect to resume Monday

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.

Gabianelli testified that Michaela's shorts and T-shirt were burned and that she had been wearing them. She said Michaela's clothing was tested for traces of accelerant but did not testify on what the results were.

The sergeant also testified that a red pickup truck, registered to Hayes' boss, was found parked at the Stop & Shop near the Bank of America prosecutors say Hawke-Petit was taken to. Inside the truck was Hayes' wallet and Hayley's backpack, Gabianella testified.

Inside Hayeley's backpack were both Petit and Hayley's wallets. Found near the backpack was jewelry, Gabianella testified. In earlier testimony, Gabianella said jewelry was strewn about the bed in the Petit's master bedroom as though it had been rummaged through.

“Honestly, as victims of an awful crime like this, there are a lot of things you’ve never been told, and a lot of it is you’re here to support your deceased loved ones that can’t be here,” said Hawke-Petit’s sister, Cynthia Hawke-Petit.

Petit Recounts Morning Of Attack

Petit, the sole survivor of the attack, took the stand on Tuesday. On the stand for hours, Petit recounted the early-morning hours in which he was beaten with a baseball bat and tied up in his home's basement.

Petit told jurors he awoke to pain in his head and could feel blood running down his face. Petit said it was dark, but he could see the outline of two men, one of whom was holding a gun.

Petit testified that the men wanted to know if there was a safe in the house. He said he later heard one of the intruders order his wife to get the checkbooks so they could go to the bank and withdraw money.

Petit was able to free his hands and hop to a neighbor's home for help.

First Responders Testify

Cheshire Police Captain Robert Vignola said he received a call from dispatch about an apparent hostage situation. He said the initial call came in at 9:27 a.m. and was made by someone at Bank Of America, where Hawke-Petit was taken to withdraw funds.

Vignola said he drove by the Cheshire home at about 9:40 a.m., saw no activity, but began assigning men to the area around the home, and set up a command with a view of the driveway. He said he attempted to make a phone connection inside the home, but the phones had been disconnected.

Vignola said a short time later, he saw Hayes and Komisarjevsky run from the house and throw a bag into the family's car. He said they seemed excited, and Hayes slipped while running.

Vignola said he tried to block the driveway with his cruiser, but the family's Pacifica crashed into it. The officers drew their guns, but Vignola said the car kept going, eventually crashing into a blockade.

The captain said when officers went to clear the home, they noticed smoke was rising.

According to court testimony, firefighters found the body of Hawke-Petit in the family room, Hayley's body was found at the top of the stairs and Michaela was found on a bed with her hands tied to the bed post.

911 Calls From Inside Bank Released

On Wednesday afternoon, officials released the tapes of 911 calls made from inside the bank while Hawke-Petit withdrew the $15,000.

"We have a lady in the bank. Her name is Jennifer Petit," said the bank manager.

The 911 call from the bank set off a chain of events. Vignola testified about what happened as the information about a possible hostage situation was relayed to him, and defense attorneys are beginning to make the police response a focus of their case.

At 9:21 a.m.,

the first 911 call was made from inside the Bank of America. The incident was relayed to officers at 9:25 a.m.

At 9:27 a.m.,

the police units were told by the captain to not approach the Petit household.

At 9:36 a.m.,

the captain drove by the house.

At 9:44 a.m.,

Vignola ordered that a perimeter would be needed before any phone calls were placed into the Petit house. The captain assigned road blocks and began moving officers around at 9:45 a.m.

At 9:54 a.m.,

an officer heard someone, who turned out to be Dr. William Petit calling "Dave, Dave."

Hayes' defense attorney requested Thursday that the court adjourn early over concerns of Hayes' health. Judge Jon Blue said he wants to treat Hayes' health carefully and agreed to adjourn. Proceedings are set to resume on Monday at 10 a.m.

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