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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
HBO Documentary: "The Cheshire Murders"
Aired August 24, 2013 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
911 OPERATOR: What's your emergency?
CALLER: My name is Mary Lyons (ph). I'm the banking center manager.
We have a lady who is in our bank right now, who says that her husband and children are being held at their house. The people are in a car outside the bank. She is getting $15,000, to bring out to them. That if the police are told, they will kill her children and the husband. Her name is Jennifer Petit, P-E-T-I-T.
911 OPERATOR: OK. Is she still in the bank?
CALLER: Yes, she is.
911 OPERATOR: OK. She's being held -- or --
CALLER: Her husband --
911 OPERATOR: Her husband and family is being held --
911 OPERATOR: -- at their house?
CALLER: Yes. They're tied up. She said they drove her here. I'm trying to look and see where she has gone.
Wait, I see her walking now. She is petrified.
REPORTER: Tonight, police removed the body of one of the victims after a home invasion leaves a mother and her two daughters dead. The suspects, 26-year-old Joshua Komisarjevsky of Cheshire, and 44-year- old Steven Hayes of Winsted were caught while trying to escape in the Petit's car.
The only question that remains, why did this happen to the Petit family?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's not one word that I can use to describe our town. But it's a phenomenal town. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's known as the betting capital of Connecticut, for betting plants. It was historically a farming community, a lot of family farms. And as the state of Connecticut grew, as the cities surrounding the town of Cheshire grew, it ultimately became a bedroom community, which is probably the way most people think of Cheshire.
REPORTER: Returning to tonight's top story, a mother and two daughters dead, their father severely injured, after a home invasion stunned the town of Cheshire.
REPORTER: The suspects apparently set the house on fire, as well as some of the victims.
REPORTER: Jennifer Petit, her cause of death, asphyxiation from strangulation. Her daughters, Hayley and Michaela, died from smoke inhalation.
SUBTITLE: The Cheshire Murders
CYNTHIA HAWKE RENN, JENNIFER PETIT'S SISTER: I had a phone call here Monday afternoon from Billy's sister. And I said, Hannah, it's about the girls, isn't it?
And she said, these two men came in, what they think was 3:00 in the morning, and they beat Billy really badly with a baseball bat. And his head's all split apart. And then they proceed to do all these awful things to the girls. And they tied them to their beds.
About 9:00, Jen was made to go to the bank and withdraw money. And then when she came back from the bank, they set the house on fire and killed them all so that they could try to cover up their tracks, I guess.
But they got the two guys. And all I could think was, who cares if they got the two guys? We don't have our loved ones anymore. And that's all we had.
The hardest thing I think I've ever had to do in my life was to tell my parents that one of their other children, their only other child, was dead, and their two grandchildren, two of their four.
REV. RICHARD HAWKE, JENNIFER PETIT'S FATHER: She quickly told us that the home was set on fire, but Bill escaped. And we went to the hospital and got to see Bill for the first time. He was badly beaten, and he tried to apologize to us for not saving our daughter, and our grandchildren. And we had to convince him that he was in no condition to be able to save anyone. And we were grateful --
MARYBELLE HAWKE, JENNIFER PETIT'S MOTHER: That he was alive.
R. HAWKE: That he was alive.
M. HAWKE: Right.
HAWKE RENN: This is the last picture we had together. My sister, she was beautiful. And she was usually like the lead in the plays at school. She was on the homecoming court. She was captain of the Trojannette team. So she really was kind of like a winner person.
R. HAWKE: Bill was a committed, dedicated doctor, would leave at 7:00 in the morning and not be back home until maybe 9:00, 9:30.
HAWKE RENN: When Jen was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Hayley wanted to raise money, because she felt if she didn't do anything, it was possible her mother could die.
REV. STEPHEN VOLPE, PETIT FAMILY PASTOR: Hayley was able to raise a little over $50,000, being a spokesperson for the ms society here in Connecticut, receiving awards for that, although you would never know it.
M. HAWKE: Michaela sometimes shied away from adults, but if she saw someone was having a difficult time, she went to them and tried to help with whatever she could.
R. HAWKE: Their lives were just centered around a sense of socialability, justice, and if I didn't smile about it, I'd have to cry.
DR. WILLIAM PETIT: Well, first of all, thank you for all coming out today to honor the memory of the girls. I would really like to say thank you to people from all over the state of Connecticut and all over the country. We have been surrounded with love and cards and flowers and prayer, from East to West, from North to South.
I met Jen at children's hospital in Pittsburgh for med. She was a new nurse, and I was the know-it-all third year medical student. I was trying to correct Jen on how to take the blood pressure the correct way, since I had about three minutes of experience at that point.
But it became clear pretty quickly that she knew more about pediatrics and how to care for kids than I had ever known.
TV ANCHOR: Joining me on the phone right now is Lt. Jay Markella, the public information officer for the Cheshire Police Department. Thank you for joining us.
LT. JAY MARKELLA, CHESHIRE CT POLICE DEPARTMENT (via telephone): Thank you for having me.
TV ANCHOR: Very little detail coming out though about exactly what happened. Was it when police showed up that they found the house on fire and caught these suspects? Because they were caught leaving the burning house.
MARKELLA: Yes. It worked out so officers arrived on-scene just as the suspects were leaving the residence. HAWKE RENN: OK, I don't know how far we should go back, but -- I'm a very detective-like person. I like to know details. And until I know the details around things, it's hard to figure things out. I would like to know why my sister and Steven Hayes weren't stopped at the bank. Why she wasn't held at the bank.
There were some police officers that, off the record, said to people in the town that they heard the girls screaming in the end. Did they try to enter? Did they not try to enter? And why weren't there policemen looking in the windows? My sister had no blinds on her windows.
I just want the facts. And nobody has told us what really happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And today, a state prosecutor said he'll seek the death penalty for Komisarjevsky and Hayes. Today, the state charged the men with six counts each of capital felony murder.
THOMAS ULLMAN, HAYES' DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Right from the first time that we met, Steven Hayes was suicidal, depressed. Just doesn't really understand how this all happened.
His record is lengthy. He's got all these burglaries. Most involve car burglaries. In this state, burglary includes the break-in of a car. And they were all daytime.
He'd sit and watch, people would park their cars, they would go walking on a trail, break into their car and take a laptop or a radio or a phone. So, you were not dealing with someone who had the kind of classic history of violence and all of a sudden stepped into the big time in terms of the next level.
You just didn't have it. There was no reason that anyone would ever look at that history and think, well, this guy is going to do something really bad one day.
ALICIA HAYES, STEVEN HAYES' DAUGHTER: The first time that I found out about my dad, I was probably about 5 years old. He would, like, take me to the movies, and he really tried to be that father figure to me. But for whatever reason, he just couldn't stay out of trouble. And so when he went back to jail, like, he would write to me and I would write back. And that was our way of communicating.
When I first found out about the incident, I just came back from the police academy. And my mind was just like -- I told him to call me if something was wrong.
I needed to talk to him. I needed to get answers from him. What made him get together with this one guy and do what they did, whose idea was it, was it just one or was it both or did it just happen? It's just like there's no easy answer. And I might not like the answer I get. But it's all just why.
REPORTER: The details of 26-year-old Joshua Komisarjevsky's past are more in depth and some say even more disturbing. His rap sheet -- CHRIS KOMISARJEVSKY, JOSHUA'S UNCLE: We were right in the kitchen here. And we got a call from my brother, Ben. And he said, I think josh has been involved in this home invasion.
And I said to him, I said, home invasion? This was a murder. And Josh was involved?
You see the name spelled out, the Komisarjevsky name. And you sit there, and you hold your head in your hands. And you can't believe it. And you want to cry.
This young man is a monster. And that is not the way that we as members of this family behave.
When we drove up to Cheshire, my brother's house was just swarmed with media, knocking on the door, trying to get statements from them. I think it's hard for anybody to be able to deal with that kind of a situation, but probably more so for them, because they were individuals who basically had withdrawn from many aspects of public life.
They ultimately posted a notice on the outside of their door. But that was it. And from that time on, they have had nothing to say.
MICHAEL DALUZ, COUNSELOR, BERMAN TREATMENT CENTER: It was so disappointing, because I knew I was the last person therapeutically that met with Josh, and to really paint a picture of him in a different light. I saw someone who created some beautiful designs, these sketches. I mean, this kid was amazing.
How am I going to go in there and tell them that this was a good kid and that I was really close to him after what he did?
WILLIAM GERACE, KOMISARJEVSKY'S FORMER DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Joshua was a little skinny, frail kid. I saw him behind the bars. He had on his cream-colored jail uniform. He was slight. He was polite. He's adopted. He went from regular school special ed to home school. This whole package didn't make sense to me.
Burglary, burglary, burglary, burglary and burglary. Genius, and he is a genius, in some respects with a photographic memory and attention to detail that no normal mind could possibly retain.
He told of every burglary he did. He knew every item he took, passports, what dumpsters he threw it in.
Joshua could get into a third floor, steal things, know which denominations of bills he took a year later, two years later. Tell you where each wallet was, what kind of pants they were taken from, where the pants were, on the floor, bed post, closet. Stay there for hours, not get caught.
Joshua used relatively sophisticated equipment for a burglar. Night vision goggles, latex gloves. After he'd rob the house, he would stay there on occasion, and listen to the people breathing. And go from room to room, listening to the occupants breathing, for no apparent purpose.
That was the frightening part of it. He robbed state troopers' houses, which takes some guts.
And I said, judge, he needs to be watched. This kid is sick. You're never going to see him again or he's going to be the worst criminal to pass through these doors, because that's the kind of mind he's got.
REP. MIKE LAWLOR, CHAIRMAN, CT JUDICIARY COMM.: Komisarjevsky was arrested for 18 home invasions. And the warning bells in there should have been ringing very loudly. Under a ten-year-old law, prosecutors are supposed to order a transcript evident of the sentencing proceeding and send that along to the parole board.
I mean, I used to be a prosecutor. And I helped write this law I'm talking about. Because I knew that it's at the sentencing that you really find out everything you need to know about this offender and the crime.
The problem is, none of this ever got to the Department of Corrections. None of this ever got to the parole board. So, from the point of view of the Department of Corrections, they got first time ever incarcerated inmate, young, white, bright, home schooled, remorseful, never identified as a person with high mental health needs because he didn't come across as that type of person. He was a real -- a manipulator.
The typical sentence for the burglary is a maximum of 10 years in prison for each offense. Komisarjevsky could have been locked up for two lifetimes. It was possible. It didn't happen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lieutenant, good morning, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning, Dan.
First of all, the Cheshire Police Department and the response to the initial call was absolutely outstanding. They did a stellar job. The chief and all those personnel and Cheshire PD deserve a lot of praise and credit.
LT. J. PAUL VANCE, CONNECTICUTT STATE POLICE: People are asking about a time line. You know, when did this occur, when did that occur. We don't detail that information. That's not something that really the public really needs to be concerned about at this point in time, and it has more of an impact on the case itself.
You know, the type of injury, the scene that one may try to envision in their mind, we're not going to detail that. We're not going to discuss, you know, how someone died over and above, manner and cause, which we'll give manner and cause of death. But we're not going to get into great, graphic, detailed description.
You know, we're not going to talk about assaults. We're not going to talk about weapons.
ULLMANN: It's starting to pan out, the state's claim is pretty strong, overwhelmingly strong. And that what's at stake at this case is life or death.
You have the gasoline aspect of it, you know, the sexual assault, horrible crime scene photos. You have the right defendant. You have the right perpetrator.
What do we do? Isn't this the case that death is warranted? And I can't accept that.
Once you allow the death penalty to go forward, then the next case comes along, and it's okay for the next case, because that crime was horrifying. And what if that's a mistake, what's if that's an innocent guy?
And this notion of that -- though if you execute somebody, you know, you'll save money. You know, that's the furthest thing from the truth. You know, we have pretty much a blank check.
So I'm reminding everybody -- listen, Steven Hayes is ready to plead guilty to all of these charges and take a sentence of life without the possibility of release. It will be over now. You know, there would be -- the case would be done, there wouldn't be any appeals. We would stop spending all this money. We would not have to traumatize everybody with the facts of this case.
R. HAWKE: As a united Methodist minister, I am a minister of a church at large that is opposed to capital punishment. That has put me between a rock and a hard place.
M. HAWKE: We certainly don't approve of torture of people. But we feel that there has to be some justice in how people are dealt with when they are so inhumane in their treatment of others.
PETIT: You know, it just makes me want to cry. Jennifer, Hayley and Michaela, they were kind and they were sweet. They looked out for other people. They cared about other people and spent their time helping people.
So, for them to suffer, you know, horrific, horrific deaths seems incredibly unjust. It would seem incredibly unjust for anybody. But obviously, they're the three people I knew and loved the best in the world.
And it just -- contra -- contra -- the opposition of the just absolute evil that attacked us versus the goodness they represented. It's just worlds apart. MATTHEW HAYES: A benign visit to the grocery store to get milk, bread, toilet paper. Oh, and "People" magazine. Because a family my brother killed is on the front cover. And my brother's picture is in it.
He raped a woman. He choked her to death. He poured gasoline on two little girls. And he set them on fire.
How does a person do that? They paroled him in November. He peed funny, so they threw him back and they paroled him five months later.
Personally, they're stupid, because they don't get it. You don't care enough about the people in your society to put these type of people back out on the street. And I want to say that it's really tough for me to say, because one of those people is my brother.
BRIAN HAYES: Who is Steve? He's manipulating, he's deceptive. And that's my brother.
Monday, when I saw it on the news, all I heard was that there was the home invasion and what not. And it seemed like something Steve would do.
M. HAYES: But he never --
B. HAYES: Smashing of the police cars and the breaking and entering and stuff like that.
M. HAYES: But the killing, the raping and the burning?
B. HAYES: That could have been josh. I don't know who was the mastermind. Well, obviously, neither one of them, because they got caught. And they did something --
M. HAYES: Well, being a mastermind doesn't mean you don't get caught. Honestly, you know, it is. It's -- it is the equivalent of the perfect storm.
CAROLINE MESEL: Dear Caroline, good evening, sweetheart. When I wake every morning, the sun is just starting to rise. Its light dances across your picture, radiating your beautiful eyes and pretty smile. It's the best part of the day -- a calming mix of hope, beauty and tranquility.
Take care, Caroline, smile. Someone is thinking of you. Strength and honor. Sincerely, Joshua. P.S., miss you.
We called Joshua the hopeless romantic. That was the biggest side I loved about him. Joshua and I did have a very sexually active relationship. And he did like to tie me up. And, of course, you know, I was the submissive one. And sometimes I was the dominant one. But most of the time, I was submissive.
Joshua always asked me, is this too tight? Are you OK? Joshua always was concerned. Joshua was definitely a soul mate, and that's what killed me the most. (END VIDEOTAPE)
ULLMANN: "To this addict, drugs are not my main problem, I am my main problem, my self-destructive and behavior. What I like about getting high is to escape my feelings. I have self medicated so much, I don't know how to feel anymore."
This is his own words. He's writing this.
"Unresolved anger controls me. It haunts me, day and night, sometimes to the point of obsession, even scary fantasy."
DR. ERIC GOLDSMITH, HAYES' PSYCHIATRIC EXAMINER: A day or two before the crime occurs, Steven saw that his life was once again going downhill. And he says that he locks himself in a hotel room with crack cocaine and heroin and goes on this drug binge with a desire and hope he would kill himself.
He leaves the hotel room feeling like he's failed at this suicide attempt, leaving him, in his view, more desperate. He shows up at an AA meeting in Hartford, and there's Joshua. And Joshua started talking to him about ways to make some real money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning, everyone.
CROWD: Good morning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a continued hearing in a matter of complaint brought by Colin Poitras on "The Hartford Courant" against chief fire department, town of Cheshire.
COLIN POITRAS, REPORTER, THE HARTFORD COURANT: We applied through the town of Cheshire for more material right after the crime took place. We finally got new information yesterday, a complete transcript with the time of the initial call from the bank official regarding Mrs. Petit being at the bank, saying she might be held hostage, to the time the suspects were arrested outside the Petit household.
And our review of this document, which is heavily edited, to protect potential witnesses of the town, has told us, raises the possibility that officers on alert could have maybe stopped this car with the suspect and Mrs. Petit as they were coming home from the bank. Perhaps could have beat them back to the house, could have separated the two suspects at that time. And maybe things would have had a different outcome.
And what's still out there, no one knows what the initial 911 call said, what the bank official said to police when she called. What were they told? Was it clear? Did they know they had a hostage crisis?
MATT HALL, MAYOR OF CHESHIRE: There's always more information that is yearned for, either in a journalistic sense, a due diligence reporting sense, and sadly, in a salacious sense. So, it is hard to say no, I don't have anything to tell you right now, over and over again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Upon arrival at the victim's residence, the first officer observed the private residence fully engulfed in flame.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it worked out so officers arrived on-scene, just as the suspects were leaving the residence.
HAWKE RENN: I get really tired of the stories that say, oh, by the time the police showed up, the house was already in flames, and that's not true at all.
When Billy came out of the house, he was pretty sure he saw men in the woods hiding behind trees, and we think those were all the police officers. And he was calling out to a neighbor, while hopping across the yard, tied and badly beaten.
That should have raised the police eyebrows to say, what are they doing in there? We need to get in there and find out.
M. HAWKE: That's why I wrote letters to the police. I felt like, and I expressed in my letter, that their goal was to catch the men, whoever were guilty, and above and beyond the saving of lives. And I felt that their priorities were very much askew.
HAWKE RENN: We have asked a lot of questions, written a lot of letters, but they have not sat with me and they have not sat with my parents to tell us what happened and what unfolded and why and how. I believe that truly they think they did something wrong. I have heard all kinds of things, that it was a small town, and they hadn't had the experience in the past.
I think they were afraid.
MICHAEL MILONE, CHESHIRE TOWN MANAGER: I just can't say enough good things about how proud I am of the extraordinary effort of our police officers and our firefighters. They're extremely well-trained, they're a great group of professionals, and I think today exemplified the finest of what the police and fire were all about in this community. And I can't thank them enough, because without their great work, this could have been a far worse tragedy. We were very, very fortunate.
HAWKE RENN: I was just literally shocked when I heard him say that, and that there were no further casualties or something. And I thought, you know, how bad does it have to be? I mean, I thought it was awful.
And he was commending them on what a great job they had done. And I was sorry. But I didn't feel they did a great job. I mean, if they had done a great job, nobody would have died.
ULLMANN: As you look through this dispatch, you can't help but walk away thinking there was another tragedy within the tragedy that occurred to the Petit family here. Nine-twenty-one-twenty-eight, initial call comes into the police department, 911. And this is the call that was actually from the bank manager.
CALLER: I will watch and see what kind of car she gets in. I'm in the office with the lights off. My teller says she saw the driver. He had a black hood over -- a hoodie and a baseball cap on.
911 OPERATOR: I'm going to keep you on hold for a couple minutes, all right?
ULLMANN: Some police officers were actually at the scene within second or minutes of when Steven Hayes and Jennifer Petit get back to the house. They had the phone number of the house early on. Nobody made a call. Nobody knocked on the door.
Nine-fifty-six, two suspects are moving into Chrysler. Nine-fifty- seven, there is a fire also at the scene. Initial call comes in at 9:21. This is over a half an hour later. They were actually at the scene for 30 minutes.
The strangulation of Jennifer Petit occurred. The rape of Jennifer Petit occurred. The pouring of gasoline occurred throughout the house and the actual setting on fire of the house. All of this is taking place while the police are watching the house, setting up their perimeter. It's really outrageous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: State lawmakers are considering a bill to change the death penalty law in the hearing that Dr. William Petit gave his opinion in the same day of a hearing for one of the men --
PETIT: Death penalty opponents speak of the invaluable sanctity of life. They love slogans such as don't kill in our name and the like. Thus, I assume the death penalty opponents value the lives of murderers more than their victims, specifically to me as a victim.
LAWLOR: You know, if you are for the death penalty, this is the poster child, no question about it. If you are against the death penalty, like I am, this guy is the poster child for the death penalty. I mean, him and Saddam Hussein, right, you kind of hard to argue the case. But it's not a philosophical debate anymore. This is reality.
And the ordeal you have to go through once it is a death penalty case is considerable. It is a guaranteed multiple years' ordeal just in terms of the trial. After the conviction, scores of years of appeals and frustration, an all of this time the focus is on the murderers and they become mini celebrities. You have to go into gruesome detail about what happened, because the prosecutor must prove that the aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating factors and the aggravating factors, unusually cruel and heinous. In other words, you have to prove that compared to other triple murders, this one is much worse.
Once this gets under way, people are not going the like what they see, and it's just starting to get under way now.
R. HAWKE: It'll probably be two years before they even start selecting of the jury. Getting pretty old, I hope that I live long enough that I can attend the trial. I want to see justice done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "A thief in the night, I have come to steal not jewels and money, but your personal safety, privacy and security. I violate your inner asylum of intimacy, and I piss on your optical illusion of peace and innocence. I feast on your animosity.
The Petit family passed through their fear and into the calm waters of abject terror, like mesmerized rabbits cornered by a spring predator. To see that fear, that emotional pain I feel every day manifested on another's face validates that this pain in me is real.
Shock waves of myself's hopelessness reverberates its bitterness through my crocked (ph) soul at the realization that I crossed life's bridge of depravity. The awakening of my shadow repressed within reaching its zenith that morning with rapturous control of Michaela. Her age was insignificant."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Roll the video.
UNIDENTIFED FEMALE: Sure.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One, two, three, four, five.
There are two suspects but Steven Hayes goes on trial first. He gets in court today but he looks very different from his mug shot. He's lost weight. He's in regular stripe shirt and pants. No handcuffs on him in front of the jury, and it is because the case has gotten so much publicity that picking an impartial jury could be difficult.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Sunny, you were inside of the courtroom today, what sort of state that Komisarjevsky appeared to be in?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN: He's much heavier now. He's sort of has a buzz cut.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Komisarjevsky is dressed in his suit and engaged in the process, wondering how long this is all going to last, we're talking about several months. This morning, the judge told him -- WALTER BANSLEY, KOMISARJEVSKY'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: From the courthouse, I don't think that Cheshire is a 15-minute drive. Terry Nichols, Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bombing cases were number two and three. Komisarjevsky was number one.
Talking to almost 2,000 prospective jurists, everybody had made conclusions based on the publicity and the conclusion was clear -- Joshua Komisarjevsky was guilty. Seventy-five percent also expressed the opinion that Joshua should die.
I never had a jury selection where people would jump out of the seats, "I'll kill him now."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is about 11:00 this morning, 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time, and one of Steven's attorneys called. They wanted to check on him this morning, as he was unresponsive and Steven is lying in a coma induced by a medical team. They are not sharing why. You know, the attorney said that he could very well die.
We are expected to be back in court tomorrow. They can't proceed without him in the room.
ULLMANN: Steven squirreled away nine or so doses of Thorazine and Klonopin, and you might question how this could happen. About a year before this, Steven Hayes had made a suicide attempt and one of the thing they found in his cell was a suicide note.
I quote, "I am sorry. All I want to do is die. It is the only way to end the pain I go through everyday 24/7 and more important the pain that trial will bring to others. Time to go to the last undiscovered country, although I am not the monster that Josh is, I am one nevertheless -- a coward, because I could not do what was right.
Looking back on my life, I was nothing but a self-centered asshole who cared only of himself. But the ironic facet to this is that I have always had the ability to change, but cowards don't change. They become me.
SHELLY SINDLAND, FOX NEWS: The judge actually toured his cell yesterday. It is called a safe cell which will protect him from harming himself. He learned a lot. He wears something called Ferguson clothing which is an inmate wears if they are in jeopardy of killing themselves, because they can't tear up the clothes and use it as a noose.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is surreal. The entire prosecution is geared to killing Steven Hayes. And so here he is trying to kill himself, and we won't let him do that, because we want to extract our pound of flesh. It is really a sick kind of process in my opinion.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tragedy at trial, front page. Tragedy at trial, front page.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, both sides are inside of this courtroom and all eyes are on what is going to happen in the opening arguments. Heavy, heavy security around Steven Hayes brought in by authorities on the convoy of vehicles.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no cameras allowed in the courtroom so you won't see what is going on in there, but tweeting is allowed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A juror has been excused, because she said she could not be fair, because she heard news reports of Steven Hayes' suicide attempt.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This jury will end up making two decisions. One is the guilt or innocence of the defendant, and if they find him guilty, then they would have to decide if he should get the death penalty for the crime.
CYNTHIA HAWKE RENN, JENNIFER PETIT'S SISTER: Going into the courtroom, Steven Hayes was off to my left. I look at him and I think, I still can't believe that you did this. I said as soon as I found out that my sister died, just come into me, and be a part of me. So I kept staring at him, and sometimes I think that is that a part of her saying stare at him and don't take your eyes off of him, like he cannot be trusted.
RICHARD HAWKE, REVEREND: I would like to say a few things to these guys. I would like them to answer me the question do they know what it is to be terrorized?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After waiting more than three years the Petit and Hawke families are ready for this trial to begin. And our hopeful that justice will prevail and we think of Jennifer, Haley and Michaela of every second of eve every day.
DOCTOR WILLIAM PETIT, WIFE AND DAUGHTERS MURDERED: It is a system, you know. And you know people say that it's the best system in the world, but it's a maddening system at best. People spend at lot of time parsing words instead of really trying to get to what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is evil. But it is the system we have, and so we are hoping, hoping that the system we have will give us justice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today's date is July 23rd, 2007, statement taking place at the Cheshire police department headquarters. Joshua Thomas Komisarjevsky, do you know why you are here?
JOSHUA THOMAS KOMISARJEVSKY, ACCOMPLICE IN THE HOME INVASION: For home invasion that went terribly wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. You went to Stop&Shop in Cheshire.
KOMISARJEVSKY: I was waiting for a contractor to make payment. We all waiting I saw a mother and daughter, and for whatever reason I chose to follow the mom and the daughter to their house and saw that they went to a very nice house. I thought it would be nice to be there someday.
THOMAS ULLMANN, HAYES' DEFENSE ATTORNEY: On the night of July 22nd, Josh and Steven were texting each other. Steven texting Josh about when are we going to get going, and it was kind of like an excitement about going to burglarize this house. He drives down to Cheshire. He and Josh go to a bar. And then they start looking for this house that Josh knows about from when they were shopping at Stop&Shop earlier. It has always been my opinion that he was attracted by the young girl Michaela rather than the money or the Mercedes.
JEREMIAH DONOVAN, KOMISARJEVSKY'S LEAD ATTORNEY: Josh was born into a family with a history of mental problems. That he was adopted by a family who had no ability to cope with me mental problems. And so, he was doomed by biology and then he was driven by fate.
When Josh was 3-years-old, the family took into the home two foster children, a girl and a boy. And Josh underwent really horrible and extensive sexual abuse at the hand of Scott. I think that it started out playing a little sex games and having him pose naked and then proceeded to full-scale anal intercourse and to Josh being burn burned with cigarettes.
Against the background of all of this, Josh is in a church in which it is taught that there is evil in the world, and probably the greatest abomination of all is homosexuality. And so, you have a 5-year-old, a 6-year-old, a 7-year-old listening to this, and thinking to himself that I am fundamentally evil. I have engaged in that kind of act activity and not really able to tell anybody about it.
DOCTOR ERIC GOLDSMITH, HAYES' PSYCHIATRIC EXAMINER: There's a theme that I saw in Steven's life of betrayal. Steven had been sexually abused as a child which led him to become more emotionally disconnected from people. The turning towards drugs and the desperate state of mind that he found himself in, all of this helped to explain how Steven could have done what he had done.
KOMISARJEVSKY: Mr. Hayes and I made our way to the house and donned face masks and put on rubber gloves, and we noticed that the father was sleeping downstairs. I could see Mr. Hayes in the window motioning to strike him and get it over with. I hit him in the head with a baseball bat, and he let out this unearthly scream. I just kept hitting him until he finally backed up into the corner of the couch.
Mr. Hayes and I proceed up the stairway. Mr. Hayes put his hand over the mom's mouth and shook her gently awake. I followed suit with the youngest daughter. I tied her feet and Mr. Hayes tied her hands. We put pillowcases over the occupants' heads so that they couldn't see us. Then I went into KK's room and sat down and we were talking about school and summer plans. I got her a glass of water.
Did she tell you her nickname or whatever is KK or you made that up?
KOMISARJEVSKY: No, that is the name that both her sister and her mother refer to her as.
FRAN HODGES, KOMISARJEVSKY'S FORMER GIRLFRIEND: I met Josh when I was 13. Josh's parents started attending the church that we went to, the Evangelical Bible Church. And we dated. We were in a relationship for about two years. We started dating when I was 14 or 15, and then our relationship was ended by the church.
Throughout the whole course of our relationship, we were always trying not to have sex. That was the goal. It felt deeply, deeply sinful. Our church community was our home school community and Josh's family and mine as well had a very specific idea of good and evil. The devil was understood to be an entity that you could know. So if Josh had anxiety, it was the devil. If he did something wrong, it was because he was being used as an agent of the devil.
Josh spoke some to me about the sexual abuse that had happened to him, but there wasn't even a way for him to tell me without weeping. Josh had terrible anxiety attacks. His home was not ever safe for him. The safe place was being away and hiding in the woods. He was trespassing and sneaking around spying on people long before it was a criminal offense. I think that he envied people, and he would daydream about being them.
GOLDSMITH: They find beer in the refrigerator and drink throughout the night. Steven finds jars of quarters and coins. They found the bank of America book. And they are waiting for the morning. However, Steven worries that he is going to leave DNA evidence in the house, and he starts obsessing. Josh tells him fire destroys everything.
We will get the people out and burn the house down and get them somewhere and then get the hell out of here. That is what Steven was thinking about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steven goes into the garage. He finds containers and he starts driving to find a gas station.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When Steven gets back with the gasoline, Josh had changed the clothes of Michaela because of the activity that he was involved with in terms of sexually abusing her and part of that occurred while Steven was out on the gas run because we know that, because of Josh's photographs that he took on the cell phone, before the bank.
The first set of photographs showed Michaela they were leg shots and genital area shot, but they were clothed. The last shots at the bank were much more graphic, and really awful, awful, awful photographs and the kinds of things that you never forget. They become emblazoned in your mind. It shows the level of depravity of Joshua Komisarjevsky.
DONOVAN: Joshua was committed against the wishes of his parents, committed and spent two weeks at Elmcrest. He was clearly in terrible shape, suicidal.
WALTER BANSLEY, KOMISARJEVSKY'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The records are very clear that Joshua wanted to try the medication, and Joshua wanted the therapy, but the parents rejected it. Not only did the parents reject it, but they immediately took him up to the Christian center.
HODGES: People would say that he was seeing demons and he believed that, and prayed that they would go away, and people would gather around and lay hands on him, and pray on him, and speak in tongues over him. Exorcism, that was part of our lives when it came to dealing with anxiety. He ended up breaking into my room at the discipleship house to come and see me. He was essentially excommunicated for doing that. His whole life, everything, it was just gone overnight. There was no addressing that perhaps this was a desperate kid who actually didn't, wasn't wrestling with the devil, but he had experienced trauma and was losing his grip.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Morning rolls around. They untie Mrs. Petit, and Steven takes her to the bank. Mrs. Petit is at the bank, and it is taking longer than he thought.
KOMISARJEVSKY: I went down to check on the daughter and I went into KK's room and one thing led to another. I ended up performing oral sex on KK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You performed oral sex on KK?
KOMISARJEVSKY: On KK? Her hands were tied but her feet weren't.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you take pictures of her?
KOMISARJEVSKY: I did. Yes. I had let her get dressed again, but before she asked to take a shower.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said you let her get dressed again. How does she can found undress because originally said she was dressed?
KOMISARJEVSKY: I used a pair of scissors and cut her shirt off and her skirt off.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one disputes that he committed the crime, and eventually he tells the police officer that while Hayes is gone, he goes upstairs to sexually assault KK. At that point, the judge stops the tape. He says a juror is having problems with this testimony, with this evidence, and that he is going to stop it for the day and they will continue again tomorrow, a very difficult day in court here, La Toya.
RENN: Komisarjevsky was calling my young niece KK like, you know, who are you to be using that term and calling. It is like term of endearment to we used. OK, you show me again that baseball bat that you hit Billy with, and I will show you how it feels. You want them to lose a daughter, you want their house to burn down, you want them to see how it feels, and other times, you think, who am I? Like this is wicked. How could I wish this on anybody?
GOLDSMITH: Steven is becoming anxious. He calls Joshua. Joshua e tells him that everything is going to be fine. The plan is going to work. After a period of time, Mrs. Petit comes out of the bank with money. When they arrive back at the house, Steven is under the belief that the crime is over. Now they can leave. But Joshua tells Steven that they have a problem. He had left DNA with one of the children, and he had to kill them and they are dead and Dr. Petit had died from the injuries and that now he had to get his hands dirty and killed Mrs. Petit. ULLMANN: I believe Steven, but from the first time that Josh talked to the police, he tried to save himself by blaming Steven for all of the horrific stuff that occurred.
KOMISARJEVSKY: Steven had come back to the house, and he had the money in his hands. He says very matter of factly, OK, you are ready? We have to kill them and burn the house down. I am like, we are not killing anyone. There is no way. Well, then, you know, I'll kill the two daughters and you can kill the mom. I was like, I'm not killing anyone. No one is dying by my hand today. And finally, he was like, I will take care of all three of them.
GOLDSMITH: Steven tells me that he felt betrayed by Josh. He felt dragged into this horror of a crime. And he also felt in a crazy way betrayed by Mrs. Petit, because he looks out the window, and he sees police cars. And he realizes that Mrs. Petit must have informed bank officials. He is triggered into this state of rage. He strangles Jennifer Hawke-Petit. Pulls down her pants, he pulls her legs up, and he vaguely rapes her after he strangles her.
KOMISARJEVSKY: I hear a noise down in the basement.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- which is where the dad is.
KOMISARJEVSKY: -- which is where the dad was. I jump up screaming to Steven that the father just took off. I could see behind Steve that the mother was lifeless on the floor and her pants were down around her ankles.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steven hears Josh telling him that they have to leave and spread the gasoline and let's get out of here.
KOMISARJEVSKY: Then he went downstairs to get the bottles, I was like, you can't be seriously contemplating burn burning these two girls alive. I went to KK's room. There was no gasoline in there. She was still in her bed and I closed the door. Then I went down to the oldest daughter's room. I closed that door and I went downstairs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you close the doors?
KOMISARJEVSKY: I didn't even think about untying them. (INAUDIBLE). Then he comes downstairs and throws one of the empty bottles into the kitchen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Empty bottles of?
KOMISARJEVSKY: -- of gasoline.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of gasoline. So he went back up with another bottle of gas?
KOMISARJEVSKY: With another bottle of gas. He is stumbling with this oversized pack of matches and I can still see the person in the grass watching him. And the entire kitchen just erupts in a sea of flame. I had already had my back turned and I'm running for the door. I fucked up. I got myself into this position but, they did what they were supposed to do. There is no reason for them to die.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of these family members who have had to relive the horror of what happened inside of that home the night. They were all tied up. It has been heartbreaking to watch inside of the courtroom. The images have been devastating of the crime scene.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When it is all put out in front of you, it is very gruesome. It's insane to just hear. It has affected the whole town. It is like the whole town is just reliving it all again, and it is not easy for all of us.
RENN: These are pictures of like the accelerant pattern that they showed how they went from like where Haley's body was upstairs into her bedroom and on to her bed and then down the hall and into Michaela's bedroom and on to bed.
And when I finally put the fire detective on the stand, I saw Michaela was tied, and she had gasoline dumped on her while she was alive and alert. And that at least Haley I know was probably burning while she was breathing. And that was just a really hard thing to learn, because I never really knew if the girls were alive when they were burning or not. And it kind of was made true to us that that was the case with Haley that she had walked while she was on fire, because she fell down in the front of her which was more burned than the back of her.
I was crying and I just felt like I wanted to get out of that courtroom and scream and just say, you know, I can't believe what is going on in there, you know. I just -- it is making me so angry, and I can't understand why somebody couldn't have ventilated that house for the girls while they were still alive. And I want it to be so different.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Finally, seeing the defense giving tough questioning to the Cheshire police officers who initially responded to the call of that home invasion, the officers said they followed protocol. Dr. William Petit has always supported the actions of the Cheshire police department. One captain testifying that the incident did not make sense at first, and he said it still does not make sense today.
ULLMANN: Steven admitted to killing the mom. He admitted to raping the mom. He admitted to spreading gasoline, and so it is not like he was trying to get himself out from under it in any way. And I think that it haunts him, really haunts him as to why he didn't walk away. Steven is in an isolation cell 24 hours a day. He has nightmares. He has nightmares about his own kid burning. This is the way his incarceration will last forever. So, you know, I don't know why we have to kill someone who is in a position like that. It is like being buried alive.
BANSLEY: We, the defense team always believed that Joshua never had the intention to kill anybody. After he bashed Dr. Petit's head several times, later on he got a towel and wiped the blood away from Dr. Petit's head. He then got two pillows and put them behind his back and he got two cushions. And his explanation which is in his confession was that he did so, because he thought that Dr. Petit was not comfortable enough, and he was concerned about his comfort.
What occurred with Michaela is absolutely unexplainable. Such a horrendous crime committed on such a young girl. People go the jail for a long time for crimes like that, but you don't get the death penalty.
When Joshua was apprehended, when he was pulled from the car, he was straight with the police. When Steven Hayes was pulled from the car, he gave a phony car and when asked if anybody else was in the house, he said I don't know. When Joshua was pulled from the car, he gave his name and he said there is a woman inside. I believe she is dead. And upstairs, there are two girls and he expressed to the police that there was some urgency to the situation which was pretty obvious because at this time the house is burning. To me, these are things that are inconsistent with intending to kill somebody.
ALICIA HAYES, STEVEN HAYES' DAUGHTER: I actually got to see Steve twice the past two Sundays. When I first saw him, I wanted to cry, because I have not seen him so long. But I just didn't want to cry in those circumstances, because you had all of the guards standing right on top of you. And you can't talk about the trial, because like you know that the phones are pretty tapped. And I know that family wants him to be dead, and it all to be over with, but like my side of the family, we just want him to like take responsibility for what he did without the consequence of the death penalty. That won't bring anyone back. What happened happen and his death is not going to bring about much justice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steven Hayes walked into room 6A. For the first time he saw a familiar face. He was with his brother, Matthew, the first time that we believe a Hayes family member has been in court.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prosecutor Michael Darren said that these two beautiful girls and loving mother were killed because Steven Hayes wanted money. The defense attorney Thomas Ullmann argued that the death penalty is the harshest punishment Steven Hayes can be given.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is finally in the hands of the jury.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: State attorney Gary Nicholson did not mince words as he spoke to the jury in the closing argument s this morning saying that Joshua Komisarjevsky has pulled no shrinking violet. He played a starring role in the crime. Nicholson hammered the point that Komisarjevsky was the first in the house, the first to use violence and had plenty of opportunity to leave the home. He gave Hayes directions back to the house when he went to buy gasoline.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is not fair, is it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, all I think of is the impact of our girls could have made upon the world. And of course, none of that will ever come forth from Joshua Komisarjevsky.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: What's the jury weighing? Aggravating factors against mitigating factors. No verdict today, but we do expect a verdict by the end of the week.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are good. You guys come in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lord, we gather around this table as family and friends. We stand at a place in the trial where we wonder what will take place. But we pray, God, that we will be able to be strong enough to accept whatever the outcome may be. That it would be your will that would be done. For we ask it in the name of Christ, amen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is all about death and life without parole.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really, it does seem like the most, kind humane thing that you could do for a person is to allow them to just die. I thought of how, how much that challenges the jurors.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of pressure has been placed upon their shoulders. I'm glad I'm not in that room.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never get those pictures out of their heads for the rest of their lives.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, it has been very traumatic for everyone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: This is a case that has just rattled people. A lot of people say that if there is a case that warrants the death penalty, this is it. Wait a minute I want to read you something that we are getting -- we are getting word on and you might be able to explain it to us. The jurors are standing and the clerk is reading the verdict form. Count four, no statutory mitigators, both aggravators are proven, OK, the defendant is sentenced to death, Sunny.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The jury returns.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Death penalty verdict.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Death for the monster who slaughtered the Connecticut doctor's family.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NIGHTLY NEWS ANCHOR: Tonight, a Connecticut jury has done something very rare.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, AC360: They have recommended death for Steven Hayes. He is convicted of raping and murdering a mom, Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters Haley and Michaela.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The verdict was devastating. Steven wanted the death verdict, and knew we did everything in our power to prevent that in spite of his own efforts to kill himself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: This case gets attention in Australia. It got attention in Europe. You know, this is any town, America, and any family America, and when you saw just how it was shattered in a few hours, I think that it is kind of --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Count five to death. I hope the second count, count five in murder of Michaela Petit is death. Did he intentionally cause the death of a person under the age of 16 years old? All right, count ten is death. That is that he intentionally caused the death of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, the mother. OK. Count 11 is death.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A couple of marshals came up behind Joshua in cuffs and really no reaction at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Given the public outrage to the horrendous crimes, we could not get a fair jury here, and that is why we filed a motion to change the venue and it should have been granted, and that is one of the main appellant issues. I believe that the death penalty is barbaric and in line for countries like China, Yemen, Iraq and Iran. I don't know what purpose it serves other than simply revenge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Walter Bansley III, thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Denise, of course, yes, we are going to have continuing coverage here of the death penalty that has been given to Joshua Komisarjevsky.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are satisfied that the defendant has been judge to be the murderer, the rapist and criminal that he is. And now, he is been condemned to the ultimate penalty.
We have been criticized over the years that this is vengeance and blood lust, but this is about justice. We want to go forward with the Petit family foundation and try to create good out of evil and hope the defense did what they thought they should do. I thought a lot of it was particularly distasteful. I saw picture after picture after picture and every time the pictures went up I thought Charles Manson was a baby once. I'm not sure if this is particularly relevant.
RENN: I would like to thank our justice system as well as the jury members, listening to things they would have much rather not heard and seen. I believe without our defense attorneys we could not have the outcome that we have. So, we have to even be appreciative that there are defense attorneys that will take cases like this and I believe God's will has been done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want to answer any questions. I feel so sad. I don't know if any of the other defense attorneys --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: There will be automatic appeals. There will be appeals upon appeals; this will go on for years and years and years.
DONOVAN: We offered to plead guilty to every charge in the information against us so long as his death was not the result. So Joshua would have been sentenced to life without the possibility of release, would have happened three weeks after the crime had taken place. Josh would have disappeared into the great abyss of the penal system and would never have been heard from again. But that was not serious enough punishment for the state. And then, of course the state was being goateed on by Dr. Petit. And so we had to go through three years of haze and Joshua.
And just forcing the people of Connecticut to relive that crime day after day after day, it coursed the social fabric of Connecticut. It would have been so much better just to throw those guys in jail and throw away the key.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most difficult thing that I had to do in my life was to bury my own child and two grandchildren. I don't think there will ever be closure for our family.
Jennifer was too much of a giving, loving person. And I don't think that we will ever, ever, if we live another 100 years will ever want to forget her. So, if closure brings forgetting, I don't want that closure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The following is a CNN Special Report.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What began with fire became murder and manhunt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The level of intensity is incredible.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A best friend turned worst enemy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This gentleman that was a friend of ours for a long time has taken everything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hundreds in desperate pursuit of one teen in grave danger.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The amber alert, this picture of this blonde-hair girl. I said that is the girl we seen up on the mountain.