Prosecutors: 'Library Book' Could Be An Issue In Cheshire Case

A library book Steven Hayes was reading in the months before the Cheshire home-invasion killings could be used as evidence by prosecutors at his trial.

Hayes' defense team, however, is prepared to fight the use of the book to prosecute Hayes for the July 2007 killings of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, inside their Cheshire home.

The name of the book and its author were not disclosed during a brief hearing Tuesday in Superior Court, where Judge Jon C. Blue set a schedule for the filing and arguing of possible pre-trial motions in the case. Testimony is scheduled to start Sept. 13, and attorneys are expected to file pre-trial motions by the end of the month.

Most of the motions Blue discussed Tuesday, including motions to sequester witnesses and to suppress physical evidence, are filed routinely before criminal cases. While discussing motions, Blue made a reference to "a library book" that could be an issue in the case.

Citing a court-imposed gag order preventing parties from talking publicly about the Hayes case, neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys would comment on the library book.

Brian Garnett, a spokesman for the state Department of Correction, also cited the gag order when asked about reading materials Hayes may have signed out from prison libraries.

Hayes, whose long criminal record dates back to when he was a teenager in the 1980s, was serving a five-year prison sentence following a burglary conviction in October 2003 when he was granted community release in June 2006. He returned to prison five months later and remained there until May 2007 when he was granted supervised parole.

Hayes, 47, of Winsted, is the first suspect to be tried in the deadly break-in at the Petit family home on July 23, 2007. Hawke-Petit was raped and strangled. Her daughters were left bound in their beds and the house was doused with gasoline and set on fire. Before the killings, Hawke-Petit was forced to go to her bank with one of the suspects and withdraw money. Dr. William Petit Jr. was brutally beaten during the break-in but escaped the burning home.

Jury selection in the trial for the other suspect, Joshua Komisarjevsky, is supposed to start early next year.

Both men face the death penalty if convicted of the killings.

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