Support up in Conn. for death penalty

Oct. 13, 2010 at 4:51 PM
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HAMDEN, Conn., Oct. 13 (UPI) -- The first trial in a deadly home invasion has increased support for the death penalty in Connecticut, a poll released Wednesday said.

The Quinnipiac Polling Institute found 76 percent of Connecticut voters support execution for Steven Hayes, who was found guilty Oct. 6 of killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, Michaela and Hayley Petit, at their home in Cheshire. Only 18 percent said Hayes' life should be spared when the penalty phase of his trial is held.

Support for the death penalty in general was lower, with 65 percent favoring it and 23 percent opposed. Historically, about 60 percent of Connecticut voters favor the death penalty.

The state has held only one execution since 1960, although there are nine people on death row. Michael Ross, a serial killer and rapist who stopped his appeals, was put to death in 1995.

"Similar to what we found in the Michael Ross case, support for the death penalty in a specific case can be higher than support in general. This is because some voters who oppose the death penalty in general support it for a particularly heinous crime," said Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz, PhD.

Quinnipiac surveyed 1,721 registered voters between Oct. 6 and Oct. 11. The margin of error is 2.4 percentage points.

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