NEW HAVEN - (AP) - A paroled burglar was convictedTuesday of killing a mother and her two daughters in a 2007 homeinvasion in an affluent Connecticut town and now could be sentencedto death. Steven Hayes was convicted of capital felony and three counts of murder by a jury that heard eight days of gruesome testimony aboutthe July 2007 attacks on Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters,17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela. The verdict triggers a second phase of the trial, in which thesame jurors will decide if Hayes should be executed or face life inprison. Hayes was convicted of 16 counts and acquitted of a singlecount - arson. Hayes' defense admitted to his involvement in the fatal homeinvasion but blamed his co-defendant, Joshua Komisarjevsky, forbeing the aggressor. Komisarjevsky faces trial next year. Komisarjevsky spotted the mother and her two daughters at asupermarket, followed them to their Cheshire home, then returnedlater with Hayes, authorities say. The men broke into the Petit house in the New Haven suburb ofCheshire, beat the girl's father with a baseball bat and forcedHawke-Petit to withdraw money from a bank before raping andstrangling her, according to testimony. The men, both paroledburglars who met at a halfway house, tied the girls to their beds,put pillow cases over their heads and poured gas on or around thembefore setting the house on fire, authorities say. The girls died of smoke inhalation. Authorities say the men werecaught fleeing the scene. Hayes' attorneys conceded most of the evidence on the first dayand spent much of the trial focusing on Komisarjevsky's role. Theypointed to graphic photos of Michaela found on Komisarjevsky's cellphone, and Hayes' attorney, Tom Ullmann, said Komisarjevskyescalated the violence at every critical point, starting with Dr.Petit's beating. Prosecutors rejected that argument, saying the two men wereequally responsible for the crime.
Home invasion suspect out of hospitalJury selection halted in Cheshire murder case