Dad sobs as Conn. jurors see photos of slain girls
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Jurors were shown graphic photos Wednesday of two girls killed in a 2007 Connecticut home invasion, as their father, the only survivor of the attack, sobbed in court.
The photos were presented at the trial of Steven Hayes, who is charged with murder, sexual assault and other crimes in the deaths of the girls and their mother. Another suspect, Joshua Komisarjevsky, is awaiting trial.
Dr. William Petit, who was beaten and tied up in the basement during the home invasion, sobbed as jurors saw photos of the bodies of his daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela. The photos were distributed among the jurors rather than displayed on a screen that was used Tuesday.
"Just prepare yourself as best you can," New Haven Superior Court Judge Jon Blue warned the jury.
Firefighters testified they had poor visibility in the Cheshire house, which had been set on fire. Prosecutors say Hayes and Komisarjevsky set the blaze to destroy evidence.
Firefighters said they found Jennifer Hawke-Petit's body in the family room, Hayley's body at the top of the stairs and Michaela's body on a bed, her hands tied to the bed over her head.
A juror cried while viewing the photos and Petit relatives were visibly upset.
The judge then ended the court session for the day.
"They've been through quite a bit," he said.
Earlier, Cheshire police Capt. Robert Vignola was cross-examined by Hayes' lawyer, Thomas Ullmann, about the response time by police to the Petits' house.
Ullmann provided a timeline showing that it took police 33 minutes to confirm that at least one person at the house was in distress after receiving a call from a Cheshire bank about a possible hostage-taking.
A teller and manager at the bank testified Monday that Hawke-Petit arrived the morning of the home invasion seeking to withdraw $15,000 and informed the two bank employees that her family was being held hostage. The bank manager called police.
Vignola said there was some confusion at the bank and that a teller did not entirely believe what Hawke-Petit was saying. He said police followed protocol.
Ullmann also asked the police captain about an officer who retrieved SWAT gear at the police department instead of heading directly to the crime scene.
"You were too late," the lawyer told Vignola.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)