Conn. inmate saw oysters as way out from death row

A Connecticut man on death row for the killings of a mother and her two daughters in a 2007 home invasion says he came up with a bizarre plan to end his own life by lying about killing others in a spree of violence.

In an interview with The Hartford Courant ( ), Steven Hayes said he fabricated claims in letters last year that he killed 17 people and committed dozens of drugged date rapes. He had hoped prison authorities would notify police and that he could trade information for food, including oysters to which he is deathly allergic.

"I planned to eat them and have them find me dead in my cell the next morning," he said.

Hayes' desire to die has been a theme of his defense since the July 23, 2007, killings.

He raped and strangled Jennifer Hawke-Petit. Her daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, died of smoke inhalation after they were doused with gasoline and the house was set on fire.

Joshua Komisarjevsky also was convicted and sentenced to death for the killings. In an interview with The Associated Press in May, Komisarjevsky declined an opportunity to express remorse.

Hayes said he would not follow the example set by serial killer Michael Ross, a Connecticut death row inmate who waived his appeals and was executed in 2005. Hayes said he promised his lawyer he would not end his appeals to hasten his own execution.

His public defender, Thomas Ullmann, confirmed his client's promise.

"He has made a commitment to me that he will not pull a Michael Ross," he said.

Hayes said he expected to die as he and Komisarjevsky fled the burning house. He expected Cheshire police officers to shoot him when they saw the fake but authentic-looking gun he was carrying or when Komisarjevsky rammed their getaway vehicle into a police cruiser.

As his trial was getting underway, Hayes was found unconscious in his prison cell after overdosing on prescription medication. In testimony at the trial, Hayes said he slashed his wrists, slammed his mother's car into a rock and tied a sock around his neck.

He also said he fantasized about putting his head in a prison cell toilet and doing a back flip, but didn't because he feared he would be paralyzed rather than die.

Hayes said he believes he deserves the death penalty and that the repeal of capital punishment by the legislature and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is unfortunate. He said he views his death sentence as "a welcome relief," even though it could be years or even decades before he is executed.

He believes his failed suicide attempts force him to live with the consequences of what he's done.

"I think I've survived because I am meant to live with the thoughts of what I did to that family," Hayes said.


Information from: The Hartford Courant,