By DAVE ALTIMARI
The Hartford Courant
February 1, 2010
Jury selection in Hayes' trial at Superior Court in New Haven on charges that he killed a mother and two daughters during a home invasion in Cheshire in 2007 will be suspended today, and the delay is likely to last far longer.
Hayes was taken to the UConn Health Center in Farmington from the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield. Hospital officials declined to release any details of his condition.
Sources familiar with the case said that Hayes apparently overdosed on medication that he receives daily, but did not say what kind of pills he takes. Sources said that he had faked taking his medicine for at least a few days in an apparent suicide attempt, similar to one by former death row inmate Michael Ross several years ago.
Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky have been charged with triple murder for the slayings of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11. The three were killed, police say, when Hayes and Komisarjevsky broke into their Cheshire home in July 2007, tied them up and set the house on fire to obscure the evidence.
Jennifer's husband and the girls' father, William Petit Jr., was beaten with a baseball bat and left tied up in the basement. He escaped the fire.
Jury selection began Jan. 19, and four jurors have been chosen. Jurors are not expected to begin hearing evidence in the trial until September.
Hayes faces the death penalty if convicted.
Petit's father, William Petit Sr., said it was frustrating not knowing more about the incident.
"We'll just have to wait until [today] to find out more, just like everybody else," Petit Sr. said.
State prisons are under state police jurisdiction, and state police detectives are investigating the incident.
Department of Correction sources said that Sunday was not the first time that Hayes had attempted to overdose on drugs. Sources said that he had made a similar attempt last year and was transferred to the Garner Correctional Institute in Newtown, which is Connecticut's only prison with psychiatric facilities. Hayes was on a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week suicide watch after he was arrested, and Department of Correction officials drew criticism for having an officer sit outside his cell around the clock.
Both Hayes and Komisarjevsky have been kept isolated from other prisoners. Komisarjevsky has had several visitors, including a writer who published a book detailing Komisarjevsky's version of what happened inside the Petit home. Hayes has been virtually alone, except for visits from his lawyers.
Komisarjevsky, in the book and in a detailed police statement, has blamed Hayes for the murders of the Petit women. Sources said that Komisarjevsky told police he was upstairs in Michaela's room when he heard a struggle downstairs. Komisarjevsky said that when he looked downstairs, he saw Hayes raping and strangling Jennifer Hawke-Petit.
Komisarjevsky said that Hayes then turned to him and said there could be no witnesses and started spreading gasoline through the house. It is not clear who lit the blaze as the two men ran out of the house.
They were arrested trying to escape. The two girls died of smoke inhalation.
Courant staff writers Alaine Griffin and Mara Lee contributed to this story.
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