NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ An audio tape of jury selection is missing from the records of the murder trial of a man convicted of killing a woman and her two daughters in a 2007 home invasion.
The New Haven Register reported (http://bit.ly/11tJWbf ) the tape was at the center of a hearing Wednesday involving attorneys in the case, including those preparing Steven Hayes’ appeal of his capital felony conviction.
The missing tape from May 24, 2010, involves the questioning of a woman who was chosen as an alternate but became a full member of the jury when another juror couldn’t serve during the trial’s penalty phase.
Hayes’ lawyers had argued unsuccessfully during the trial that state law doesn’t allow a juror who didn’t deliberate the guilt of a defendant to help decide that person’s sentence.
The issue could come up again in an attempt to reverse his death sentence.
“I’m assuming the appellate lawyers are looking at our claim of improper removal of a juror and putting a juror in the penalty phase that wasn’t in on the guilt phase deliberations,” defense attorney Thomas Ullmann told the newspaper after the hearing.
“We hope it’s successful,” Ullmann said of the appeal effort. “This has always been our goal: to try to save Steven Hayes’ life.”
Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky were sentenced to death for the killings of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters. Hayes raped and strangled Hawke-Petit. Her daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, died of smoke inhalation after they were doused with gasoline and their house was set on fire.
Prosecutor Michael Dearington said it will be up to the judge to decide how significant an issue the missing tape is, but he said he is not “overly concerned.”
He said attorneys are assembling relevant documents, such as notes, to make the court file as complete as possible.
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