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Murder defendant reportedly in coma; trial delayed

Steven Hayes, 46, is hopsitalized, causing a delay in jury selection at his murder trial.
Steven Hayes, 46, is hopsitalized, causing a delay in jury selection at his murder trial.
  • Steven Hayes, defendant in Connecticut home invasion case, reportedly in coma
  • Jury selection at murder trial has been postponed
  • Hayes and another man are accused of killing doctor's wife, two daughters
  • Codefendant's trial is also scheduled for this year

(CNN) -- Jury selection in the case of a deadly 2007 Connecticut home invasion was postponed Monday because the suspect was hospitalized, his defense attorney said.

Steven Hayes was in intensive care, attorney Thomas Ullmann said.

Jury selection in Hayes' murder trial was delayed. A status conference was scheduled for Wednesday, Ullmann said.

"We have no idea how long this is going to take," the attorney added.

Hayes, 46, is one of two men charged with offenses including felony murder, kidnapping, sexual assault and arson in the July 2007 home invasion in Cheshire, Connecticut.

Prosecutors allege that Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky, 29, broke into the home of the Petit family. They say the two beat up Dr. William Petit; strangled his 48-year-old wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit; and set the home ablaze. The couple's two daughters, 17-year-old Hayley Petit and 11-year-old Michaela Petit, died from smoke inhalation.

Trial's start stirs painful memories in Cheshire

Ullmann said he did not know why Hayes was hospitalized, but the Hartford Courant, citing unnamed sources, said he apparently overdosed on medication he receives daily. Superior Court Judge Jon C. Blue said in court Monday that Ullmann told him Hayes was found unconscious in his cell and may be in a medically induced coma.

The University of Connecticut Medical Center referred questions Monday to the Connecticut Department of Correction. The department declined comment, citing a court-imposed gag order in the case.

Authorities allege that during the Petit home invasion, one of the attackers drove Hawke-Petit to a bank to withdraw money. She was able to alert a bank teller that the family was being held captive, and the teller alerted police, authorities said.

Media reports said that Hawke-Petit and Michaela Petit were sexually assaulted during the seven-hour ordeal. Prosecutors have declined to confirm details because of the gag order.

The motive in the case remains unclear. Hayes and Komisarjevsky, who is set to be tried separately, could face the death penalty if convicted.