Back in 2007, Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky committed some terrible murders in the course of a home invasion and robbery attempt. They were tried and sentenced to death, and a while ago I wrote about watching the HBO documentary made about the case and its aftermath. Very well done and very interesting, but it seriously ruined my whole week. This morning, I saw in the news that Steven Hayes was found unresponsive in his cell, though he's now in stable condition at the hospital. The DOC is staying mum beyond that, though his attorney says it was an attempt at suicide.
Not his first by a long shot — during his trial in 2010, he hoarded his prescription meds and overdosed, spending days in a coma. After recovering, he testified that "he had frequently attempted suicide, slashing his wrists, slamming his mother's car into a rock and tying a sock around his neck." He had even cooked up some cockamamie plan to falsely confess to unsolved murders in exchange for an oyster dinner, to which he's highly allergic.
In September of last year, he requested an interview with the local media where he talked about his desire to die, though he claimed that "he no longer thinks of killing himself." Somewhat paradoxically, he's also continuing with the process of appeals that'll pretty much ensure that his sentence is never carried out. Michael Ross, the sole death row inmate executed in Connecticut since 1960, voluntarily ceased all appeals and did everything he could to speed the process. The public defender representing Hayes, Thomas Ullmann, said that "He has made a commitment to me that he will not pull a Michael Ross."
The reason he asked to speak to the press was to complain about his treatment in prison and bring attention to the civil suit he's filed, "alleging denial of medical care and 'harassment and psychological torture' by the prison staff." In reaction to his suicide attempt, his attorney said that "I think he's under oppressive conditions. . . I'm not surprised that he's been driven to this state." In the interview, Hayes mostly continued to deflect responsibility and plead ignorance of his own actions, but one thing I thought was interesting was that he had watched the HBO documentary as well. He felt upset by what his younger brothers had to say about him, and denied their allegations of abuse at his hands.
It's hard to summarize my feelings about this entire case and all the many layers to it. I will say that it's pretty twisted to keep a suicidal guy on death row under conditions that'll increase his despair, yet prevent him from ever successfully offing himself, and then taking him to the hospital so that he can be healed up to the proper condition to face a death sentence that'll never be carried out.