Sole survivor of Conn. home invasion testifies

September 14, 2010 2:56:41 PM PDT
The sole survivor of a deadly home invasion described to a Connecticut jury Tuesday how a quiet, ordinary Sunday in 2007 suddenly turned violent.

William Petit, whose wife and two daughters were killed in the July 23, 2007, home invasion, took the witness stand in New Haven Superior Court on the second day of the trial of Steven Hayes, one of two suspects.

Questioned in detail by prosecutor Michael Dearington, Petit offered chilling testimony in an even, matter-of-fact style.

He said he spent that Sunday playing golf with his father and later eating dinner with his wife and daughters. He said he fell asleep on his couch, waking in the dark with the sensation of blood running down his face. Two people were standing near the couch, one holding a gun, he said.

"If he moves, put two bullets in him," Petit said one of the assailants said.

Petit said his wrists and ankles were bound and he was eventually taken to his basement, where he was tied to a post.

He said he grew more desperate when he heard one of the assailants upstairs say, "Don't worry. It's going to be over in a couple of minutes."

"It's now or never," Petit said of his thoughts at the time.

"In my mind at that moment I thought they were going to shoot all of us."

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

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

Petit said he did not know the fate of his wife and daughters, but said he heard his wife in the kitchen tell one of the attackers she needed to change clothes and get a checkbook. She soon went to a local bank early Monday and withdrew $15,000 demanded by Hayes and Komisarjevsky, prosecutors say.

Petit said he freed his hands, but not his ankles so he hopped up the stairs, but fell.

"I felt my heart was going to explode out of my chest," he said.

He could not walk or run so he crawled, but that was inefficient, he said, as he continued to weaken due a what doctors said later was his loss of as much as seven pints of blood after being beaten with a baseball bat, which was entered into evidence Tuesday. Petit said he then rolled on the ground to a neighbor's house, pounded on his garage door and got assistance.

A bank teller testified Monday that Jennifer Hawke-Petit arrived at a local bank to withdraw $15,000 after informing the teller that her family was being held hostage. The bank called police who arrived shortly after Petit sought help from his neighbor, he said.

Petit said he was immediately taken to a hospital, not knowing the fate of his wife and daughter. He said he remained in the hospital for five days when he was released and attended his family's funerals.