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'Things just got out of control,' Connecticut murder suspect told cops

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Deadly home invasion in Connecticut
  • Jurors were stunned by graphic pictures of the victims
  • The arresting officer says one of the accused told him, "Things just got out of control"
  • The July 2007 home invasion left a woman and her two daughters dead

WYNH: Testimony cut short amid concerns about defendant's health

New Haven, Connecticut (CNN) -- One of the men accused of killing the wife and children of a Connecticut doctor in a 2007 home invasion told police, "Things just got out of control," his arresting officer testified Wednesday.

Detective Joseph Vitello said Steven Hayes was arrested fleeing from the burning home of Dr. William Petit, whose wife and two daughters were found dead inside shortly afterward.

Jurors were visibly stunned when shown pictures of the victims' burned remains Wednesday, with at least one weeping in court.

Vitello said Hayes and co-defendant Joshua Komisarjevsky were trying to escape in the Petits' car when they collided with two police cars and were forced to a stop. He said he cuffed Hayes, took away a pellet gun built to resemble a 9 mm pistol and asked Hayes what happened to the Petit family.

Hayes responded, "I don't know. ... Things just got out of control," Vitello testified.

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Hayes and Komisarjevsky are charged with capital murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, burglary and arson in the July 2007 killings of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, Hayley Petit and Michaela Petit. Hawke-Petit, 48, was strangled, while 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela died of smoke inhalation when their captors set their Cheshire, Connecticut, home ablaze.

Police arrived just as Hayes and Komisarjevsky, who is still awaiting trial, were attempting to flee in the Petit family's Chrysler Pacifica, according to testimony on Tuesday. Officers had been called after Hawke-Petit went to her bank and asked a teller to withdraw $15,000.

The teller, who testified Monday, said she notified her manager after Hawke-Petit said she needed to the money "because she and her family were being held hostage at her house."

Petit testified Tuesday, calmly recounting how he was beaten, tied up by his captors and left in his basement while fearing for the well-being of his family. He said he managed to undo the ropes and plastic ties that bound his hands, but could not undo his feet -- leaving him able only to hop and roll to his neighbor's garage.

Petit said that for the most part "it was very quiet" while he was trapped in the basement, but at one point he heard "three loud noises, like someone was throwing 20- or 30-pound sacks on the living room floor." Police arrived moments after he reached his neighbor's house, he said.

In Session's Michael Christian contributed to this report.