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Burglar sentenced in horrific slayings

| Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2010

A paroled burglar was convicted Tuesday of killing the daughter and two granddaughters of a retired Butler County minister during a night of terror inside the home of the victims in a well-to-do Connecticut town.

Steven Hayes, 47, could be sentenced to death. His attorneys have admitted his involvement and will argue for a life sentence. Another ex-con, Joshua Komisarjevsky, is awaiting trial in the case.

Prosecutors said the men broke into the family's house in Cheshire in 2007, beat the girls' father with a baseball bat and forced their mother, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, to withdraw money from a bank before sexually assaulting and strangling her.

Hawke-Petit's two daughters -- Hayley, 17, and Michaela 11 -- died of smoke inhalation after the house was set on fire. Her father, Richard Hawke, is a former district superintendent of the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church based in Cranberry.

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