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Connecticut home invasion murderer volunteers for execution

By Mary Ellen Godin

NAUGATUCK, Connecticut (Reuters) - One of two men sentenced to die for the Connecticut home invasion killings of a mother and her daughters wants to abandon his appeals and seek execution, the Hartford Courant reported on Thursday.

In a one-page handwritten letter received by the newspaper, Steven Hayes said he wants to be put to death for killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit, who he raped and strangled, and her daughters Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, who died of smoke inhalation after the family home was set on fire.

Hayes, 49, and Joshua Komisarjevsky, 32, were convicted and sentenced to death for the three murders and for beating Hawke-Petit's husband, Dr. William Petit Jr., the only survivor of the 2007 crime.

Both Hayes and Komisarjevsky had appealed.

"I declared to my defense team and the DOC (Department of Corrections) that I was going to petition to waive my direct appeal and go to the death chamber," Hayes wrote in the September 29 letter, which was excerpted in the newspaper on Thursday.

"I cannot live with the intense tourcher (sic), torment, harassment, and the resulting psychological trauma dished out by the Dept. Of Corr. staff here at Northern," he wrote, referring to Northern Correctional Institution in Somers, Connecticut.

"I was sentenced to death, not sentenced to tourcher (sic) and punitive treatment until death," the letter said.

Connecticut abolished capital punishment in April but legislators designed the law to apply only to future sentences so that Hayes and Komisarjevsky could be executed for the killings that sent shock waves across the state.

Attempts to reach the New Haven State's Attorney Michael Dearington and the office of the Capital Defense Trial Services Unit, which is handling Hayes appeal, as well as New Haven public defender Thomas Ullman, Hayes' lawyer, were unsuccessful.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Bill Trott)

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