NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Prosecutors rested their case Monday in the punishment phase of a Connecticut home invasion trial after calling a single witness, saying jurors have already heard about the gruesome nature of the attacks that killed a woman and her two daughters.
Prosecutor Michael Dearington told jurors considering the death penalty for Steven Hayes in New Haven Superior Court that he was a career criminal whose past led to the 2007 killings of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela at their home in Cheshire.
Dearington called a court clerk, who testified Hayes had a record of burglary convictions dating to 1981. Hayes' defense attorney Patrick Culligan brought out during cross-examination that some of the crimes included lower-level break-ins.
Culligan said in his opening statement that he'll show Hayes had a powerful drug addiction that controlled his life, and he was influenced by co-defendant Joshua Komisarjevsky, who will be tried next year.
Authorities say Hayes and another ex-convict, 30-year-old Joshua Komisarjevsky, carried out the 2007 Cheshire home invasion in which Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela died.
Komisarjevsky's trial starts next year.
Culligan urged jurors to keep an open mind, and said he will present witnesses to show that Hayes, who became addicted to drugs as a teenager, "could be a likeable person."
"Many of his life choices revolved around his desire and need to satisfy and fuel his drug addiction," Culal assault and three counts of intentionally causing a death during a kidnapping.
Still reeking of gasoline, Hayes gave police an emotionless confession in which he said he was financially desperate when the men hatched a plan to break into a house, tie up the family, rob them and flee. But Hayes said "things got out of control," a detective testified.
Hayes told authorities he sexually assaulted Hawke-Petit after Komisarjevsky, told him he had to "square things up" because Komisarjevsky had sexually assaulted Michaela, a detective testified.
A prison officer, Jeremiah Krob, said he overheard Hayes tell another inmate that he killed Hawke-Petit after Komisarjevsky told him he had to do it.
Hayes' attorneys had wanted to argue that executions cost more than life sentences. But a judge ruled last week that such evidence is not legally admissible.