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Crime & Courts

Survivor of Connecticut Home Invasion Murders Takes the Stand

  • Jennifer Hawke-Petit

    July 23, 2007: Jennifer Hawke-Petit is seen on security video leaving a Bank of America branch in Cheshire, Conn., after having withdrawn $15,000 in cash for her alleged captor

  • 091410_Petitmurder

    This June 2007 photo provided by Dr. William Petit Jr., shows Dr. Petit, left, with his daughters Michaela, front, Hayley, center rear, and his wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, on Cape Cod, Mass. Dr. Petit was severely beaten and his wife and two daughters were killed during a home invasion in Cheshire, Conn., July 23, 2007. (AP) (AP)

  • 091410_Petitmurder2

    Sept. 13: Dr. William Petit Jr. , right, leaves court with his father, William Petit, left, after the first day of the trial of Steven Hayes at Superior Court in New Haven, Conn. (AP). (AP2010)

A Connecticut doctor whose wife and two daughters were killed in a home invasion recalled the family's last moments of terror Tuesday, telling a jury that he woke up bloodied and dazed with two people standing over him with a gun.

Dr. William Petit testified in New Haven Superior Court during the trial of Steven Hayes.

Hayes and another man, Joshua Komisarjevsky, are charged with murder, sexual assault and other crimes in the 2007 killings of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela, at their Cheshire home.

Prosecutors say Hayes and Komisarjevsky broke into the family's upscale home, just 14 miles north of New Haven, at around 3 a.m. on July 23, 2007. 

Hayes, 47, is accused of sexually assaulting and strangling Hawke-Petit after forcing her to withdraw $15,000 in cash from a bank. Komisarjevsky, 30, is accused of sexually assaulting Michaela. 

The two men allegedly bound both girls to their beds before pouring gasoline on or around them and setting the home on fire. Authorities said both Hayley and Michaela died of smoke inhalation.   

Dr. Petit, who managed to escape, said he fell asleep that night on his couch. He said he remembers waking in the dark with the sensation of blood running down his face and being taken to his home's basement where he was tied to a post. 

"It was very strange. I remember thinking or feeling ow, ow ow," Petit reportedly testified. "The next thing I knew I was seated on the sofa."

"And then I felt something warm running down the front of my face," he said, adding that he did not know where his family was. "I was oozing blood rather profusely."

Petit testified that he heard one of the men say, "If he moves put two bullets in him," reports.

At the trial's opening on Monday, prosecutors warned jurors that they would here "incomprehensible" and "indescribable" details about the murders. 

Witnesses on Monday recalled how Hawke-Petit calmly walked up to a bank teller at a Bank of America branch in Cheshire, requesting to withdraw $15,000 in cash.  

"Her hands were a little shaky, but she wasn't overly anxious, or looking over her shoulder," bank teller Kristin Makhzangi reportedly told jurors. "She was just focusing on her conversation."

"She just mentioned that she needed to take out $15,000 because her and her family were being held hostage at the house," Makhzangi said, according to the New York Post. 

Mary Lyons, manager of the bank branch, reportedly described the 48-year-old mother's demeanor as heroic, telling jurors that Hawke-Petit "seemed, to me, very brave."

Authorities allege that Hayes drove Hawke-Petit to the bank in the family's Chrysler SUV, while her husband and daughters remained bound inside their home. 

Prosecutors say Hayes raped and strangled Hawke-Petit once he drove her home -- approximately 30 minutes after leaving the bank. 

Petit testified Tuesday that he felt a "jolt of adrenaline" and the need to escape after he heard one of the assailants upstairs say, "Don't worry, it's going to be all over in a couple of minutes."

"I thought, it's now or never because in my mind at that moment, I thought they were going shoot all of us," Petit reportedly told the jury. 

Petit told jurors that he managed to hop up a stairs to an outside basement door and then roll his body through his yard to his neighbor's home, reports.  

The neighbor, David Simcik, testified Monday that he did not recognize Petit because he was so severely beaten.

"I did not recognize him at first," Simcik reportedly told the courtroom. "His face was banged up. It just didn't look like Dr. Petit."

Prosecutors say the defendants randomly targeted the family after Komisarjevsky spotted Hawke-Petit and her two daughters in the parking lot of a Stop & Shop earlier that day. 

Both defendants face the possibility of the death penalty if convicted. Komisarjevsky is awaiting trial.

Click here to read more on this story from 

Click here to read more on this story from the New York Post

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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