March 10, 2014 / 11:46 PM / 5 years ago

Man convicted in Connecticut home invasion murders found unresponsive

(Reuters) - A Connecticut man on death row for the murder of a mother and her two daughters in a grisly 2007 home invasion was found unresponsive in his prison cell on Monday and was being treated at a hospital, authorities said.

Steven Hayes, 50, was alone in his cell at the Northern Correctional Institution in Somers when a prison guard on a routine patrol found him unresponsive, Connecticut Department of Correction officials said in a statement.

It was unclear what led to Hayes’ unresponsive state, and he was undergoing treatment at a nearby hospital, said Karen Martucci, a spokeswoman with the Department of Correction.

While it was not immediately clear if Hayes had attempted suicide, he has spoken publicly about his desire to kill himself, saying he was haunted by the memory of his victims.

Hayes tried to commit suicide during his 2010 trial and upon hearing he would face the death penalty, told a New Haven court “Death, to me, will be a welcome relief.”

Hayes and an accomplice, Joshua Komisarjevsky, are both on death row following their convictions in the 2007 triple-murder of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, and her daughters Hayley Petit, 17, and Michaela Petit, 11, and the beating of husband and father Dr. William Petit Jr.

The pair spotted Hawke-Petit at a supermarket and followed her to her home in Cheshire, Connecticut, where they tied up the family. Hayes raped and strangled Hawke-Petit and Komisarjevsky sexually assaulted Michaela. Both Michaela and her sister, Hayley, were tied to their beds and died of smoke inhalation after the men doused the home with gas and set it on fire.

Connecticut repealed the death penalty in 2012, but the does law not apply to those who had already been sentenced to death.

Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in New York, Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Steve Orlofsky

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