One of two men convicted of the brutal slaying of a Connecticut woman and her two daughters during a 2007 home invasion is suing the state for not accommodating his kosher diet.
Death row inmate Steven Hayes, 51, says in a federal lawsuit that he is a orthodox Jew and he has requested a kosher diet at Northern Correctional Institution in Somers since May 2013.
He says the state is violating his Eighth Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishedment because he must eat non-Kosher food to survive.
"I have been suffering almost starvation for the past year," Hayes said in his lawsuit.
In March Hayes was found unresponsive in his cell. He has reportedly expressed a desire to die because of his immense guilt over the crime, the New York Daily News reported at the time. A prison spokesman would not reveal whether Hayes had attempted suicide.
Hayes and accomplice Joshua Komisarjevsky were convicted of the July 23, 2007, murder of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters after the pair followed her home from the grocery store.
Hawke-Petit was held hostage in her home for hours along with her husband William Petit and her daughters Michaela, 11, and Hayley, 17. Hayes drove Hawke-Petit to a Bank of America branch where she withdrew the money he demanded. Less than an hour later, Hawke-Petit was raped and strangled to death. The girls were both tied to their beds, and Michaela was sexually assaulted. Hayes and Komisarjevsky then set the house on fire and the girls died from smoke inhalation.
Dr. William Petit was brutally beaten and tied up in his basement. He was the only survivor.
Convicted of capital felony, murder, sexual assault and other crimes, Hayes was sentenced to death in July 2007.
His public defender Thomas Ullmann said Hayes "has some spiritual interest and is occupying his mind” while in prison.
"He has been consulting and speaking with a rabbi, and has been asking for more time with the rabbi," Ullmann said.
Image source: Flickr Creative Commons / Anton Raath, AP / Anonymous