With Death Penalty Abolished, Defense Attorney for Steven Hayes Speaks | Connecticut Public Radio

With Death Penalty Abolished, Defense Attorney for Steven Hayes Speaks

Aug 14, 2015

Connecticut's Supreme Court has ruled the state's death penalty is unconstitutional. WNPR spoke to the public defender who represented one of the state's best known death row inmates.

Thomas Ullmann represented Steven Hayes -- one of two defendants sentenced to death for a 2007 home invasion that left Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters dead.

"I think the worst thing that any defense lawyer has to face is when the government tries to kill your client and your responsibility is to save his life," Ullmann said. "Let alone, protect rights. But to actually save someone's life."

Ullmann said it seemed everyone expected Hayes to get the death penalty.

"We defense attorneys did not," Ullman said. "We had felt that we had put on enough to convince the jury that they should come back with a life sentence and that was literally the worst hour and 10 minutes of my legal career. I was embarrassed. Hayes was comforting me, during that process."

Ullmann said he thinks the Supreme Court decision will save the legal system millions of dollars in money that would have been spent on costly appeals. "You know we have a criminal justice system that's starved for money in terms treatment. In terms of victims. In terms of alternative treatments," he said. "To put money down a black hole like the death penalty was just a total waste of funds."

As a result of the Supreme Court decision, Hayes, and the ten other inmates on death row, will now serve a life sentence without the possibility of parole.