Good Morning Your Honor, My name is Johanna Petit Chapman. Bill Petit is my brother and Jennifer, Hayley and Michaela were my sister in law and nieces.
I would like to thank you, Judge Blue, and your staff. Thank you to the
prosecutors and their staff and thank you to the members ofthe jury. Thanks
to all ofyou for your sacrifice and diligence in this case. The evil acts that
brought us all here together should never have happened. And, as sorry as I
am that they did happen, I am sorry too that you have had to endure the
words and images that we, the family, have had to carry since July 23rd
2007. Those images I carried with my brother Glenn after identifying the
bodies. Steven Hayes reduced my beautiful sister in law and nieces to
unrecognizable. Images so horrific that I never wanted another soul to have
to see them...partially, because they were so horrific and partially because
others seeing them made them real.
The defense team said that he is affected every second of every day because
ofhis actions. And while I fmd it loathsome to use their words...we, we are
impacted every second of every minute ofevery hour of every day of every
week ofevery month of every year because ofthe heinous acts that he
committed. He took the lives ofJennifer, Hayley and Michaela. He took
them in such a cruel and tortuous way that we will be forever impacted. In a
way, he took my brother from me as well. The holes in our hearts are far too
wide to ever heal.
Our lives have been impacted in every way- our work...means to make a
living, our health...emotional and physical, our marriage, our home life, our
holidays, our relationships with others...our ability to trust and feel safe, our
thoughts, our sleep, our dreams...our nightmares.
Celebrations and holidays ceased on July 23rd 2007. In September of2007
there was a memorial service for Jen, Hayley and KK.. It fell on what should. have been a joyous and celebratory day for my family. It fell on September
the birthday that my two children share. We should have been
celebratirig their 13th and 16th birthdays...milestones. Instead, my 16-yearold
daughter spent the day at the memorial eulogizing her cousin, her
mentor...her best friend, Hayley....or Haza or Hayes. But I just think of
her as Hayley now because he even took her nickname from her. I Can no
longer think of her by the name that her murderer has. My son spent his 13th
birthday seated with the rest ofus...sobbing.
Beyond the holidays...our every days have changed. We are starting
basketball season. Our family is huge fans ofbasketbal1. ..college hoops
...UCONN hoops. I cannot even go into the Hartford Civic Center or
Gampel Pavillion without sadness. I still wait for Hayley to come through
the door and flop onto our leather chair with a book and fall asleep. I still
wait for KK to shyly come in and check on the animals and the snack drawer
before finding AJ. I still wait for Jen to call and ask if I want to ride together
to see the girls play or go get a bite to eat. I am still tempted to call and ask
her what I should wear. I will forever miss talking to Jen. She was kind and
compassionate. She was always the first to give somebody the benefit ofthe
doubt. The harshest thing that she would say about somebody who was mean
or cruel was to call them a "baddy". That is how she taught her children.
That is how she taught my children and all ofthe children who she
With such a large family, it seemed as though we were always getting
together for something. It was always someone's birthday, anniversary,
confrrmation, basketball game, play, concert, recital or holiday. So much so,
that we actually took our closeness for granted. Jen and I would talk about
how we never had any time because every weekend was spoken for. That all
changed on July 23rd 2007. How could we gather at my moms for
Thanksgiving and stand around the table hold hands and share what we were
thankful for when there were three links missing? That first year after the
girls were murdered, we decided that we could not link hands at
Thanksgiving. We quickly learned, though, that staying alone and being
miserable was no better than being together and being miserable. And we
realized that so much had already been taken from us that we weren't willing
to give up anymore. So now we get together, but, the joy ofthe holidays is
elusive.. .it evades us. There has been no tree at Christmas. I want there to be
joy. I want there to be a tree...especially for my kids. I want them to rise
above the pain and adversity and have love and joy in their lives.
Funny thing about adversity. You can use it as a crutch as the defense team
for Steven Hayes tried to do. Or, you can use it to strengthen yourself. When
my daughter was seventeen, she wrote an essay...and while it breaks my
heart.. .it at the same time gives me hope. It gives me the hope that she will
overcome. She wrote:
The Power to Overcome
With each passing day I wait for the pain to lessen, but it never does.
Maybe because as time passes, I find it harder to remember the order ofher
books stacked next to her bed, or the arrangement ofher postcards around
her mirror. It's harder to hear Michaela's embarrassed laugh when I told her
how beautiful she was becoming. Their voices are slowly disappearing from
my memory. I can't quite get back the feeling ofjumping into the passenger
seat ofher white car and immediately changing the radio station, on our way
to anywhere and everywhere. Perhaps the forgetting is what scares me the
On July 23, 2007 my Auntie Jen and two cousins Hayley and KK
were brutally murdered in a hostage home invasion. My uncle was beaten
badly, but survived. That day, not only was my second family taken from
me, but also I lost my best friend. At the age of fifteen I found myself thrust
into a horrific situation, one most people never experience in their whole
lives. I didn't think this kind ofthing happened to people like me.
Abandoned, I knew that no one could possibly understand how I felt.
Everyone intellectually understood the magnitude ofthe loss- the loss oflife,
loss ofhappiness, loss of family. It seemed to me what I lost was something
much bigger. I lost my best friend and my idol. I lost the person I'd grown
up with, the person I'd laughed the most with. I lost the person who was
always there for me as my everyday confidant. I lost the person who always
knew what to do and always told me what to do. I lost the person who knew
me better than anyone in the world. She's the reason I even considered an
independent education. I applied to Miss Porter's with the intention to
become just like Hayley, and so this loss was the loss ofeverything I had
based my life upon thus far and I wondered how I would continue on. As I
struggled to hold back the emotions, I wondered if eventually they would eat
me away until I felt nothing.
As the days passed after the tragedy, I scrambled to hold onto as many
memories as possible. I saved the text messages from the days before and
stared blankly at my cell phone's missed calls screen. I wanted to remember
every freckle on her body, the way she moved, talked, wrote and laughed,
and I struggled to remember the old innocently naive and happy me.
The Lights ofHope benefit found me in a disgruntled, upset mood
and my gracious smile became harder and harder to uphold. As the comers
ofmy mouth curled towards the ground, the tightness in my chest became
unbearable. It seemed like the hundredth event I'd been forced to attend and
show my gratitude towards those trying to "help" us. What no one realized is
that nothing helped at all. I'd become an expert at masking the feelings that
ate away at my stomach. The only thing that kept me from stomping off in
inexplicable rage was the sight ofmy tormented uncle. Ifhe had the stamina
to make it through these events and continue breathing then so could I.
As I gazed at him in the comer ofthe room, I searched for the old
Uncle Billy. The same one who would stay up late with Hayley and me,
watching movies and eating popcorn; the one who brought us to UCONN
games and tried to make us cheer; the one who would toss me up as a little
girl high over his head until I fell into his huge safe arms. Those same arms
look defeated now, hunched over in sorrow. I felt another pang ofhurt so
deep that I wondered if hearts could stop beating from sadness.
I've certainly taken some lessons from this atrocity. I've learned to
put life into perspective. Before, when I got a poor grade on a math test, I
thought it was the end ofthe world. Now, I know what it's like to experience
the end ofmy world. No longer can I hear KK.'s laugh or feel Hayley's hug.
I'll never again get to shoot hoops with Hayley in the backyard, or ask her
for help on French homework. Along with everything that "normal"
teenagers deal with every day, 1am forced to face an unsolvable heartache.
Now, 1 live each day for those who can't. 1 refuse to let the endless surge of .
emotions stop me from living an active, successful life. Above all, 1 refuse to
fall victim to this horrific tragedy. (conclusion).
Steven Hayes has no empathy for our family...as his defense team states. He
has no remorse. The only thing that he is sorry about is that he got caught.
Officer Martucci testified under oath that Hayes is a shrewd, manipulative
inmate...perfectly aware how his faked suicide attempts would affect the
death penalty phase ofhis trial.
The defense team has thrown around terms like "bloodlust" and "media
circus" ...they have blamed everybody from the media, our family, even
have gone as far as to blame the jury....when there is only one person to
blame...Steven Hayes. Steven Hayes murdered Jen, Hayley and KK. He
murdered them in such a heinous fashion that the state ofCT w~s aghast.
While horrified, they watched...they are still watching. They are fearful that
this too may happen to them. But it didn't. .. it happened to us. Steven
Hayes had the money. Steven Hayes had the money and then decided to kill
Jen and the girls. He could have let them live...and while it would have
taken years for them to heal from the torture and fear that they endured...1
would have taken that choice any day. Life over death. No wonder the
defense team wants life over death. Hayes gave them death yet they ask for
life. It's absurd. Absurd because he does not deserve life. There are some
acts and some people who are so evil that they do not deserve life and
Steven Hayes falls into that category.
The only thing that my brother's family did was to go to sleep in their own
home. They went to sleep on a Sunday night, like we all do. Unwinding
from the week and recharging for the next. They had dinner together,
watched mindless tv, talked and read the new Harry Potter book. None ofus
would know or could know, that it would be their last night. We will never
be able to share their troubles or celebrate their triumphs. Three beautiful
lives taken...my brother's life destroyed and our life devastated because of
Steven Hayes's selfish evil acts.
.. ~ I'
Our family owes a great deal ofgratitude to the community at large. They
have helped to lift us daily. They have helped us to see light in the darkness
and have given us hope that good can overcome evil. And, for that, I am
grateful. In search ofthat light and on behalfof securing a safer civilized
society, I ask that the court impose the death penalty on Steven Hayes.