Debate Over Killer's Fate Seeps Into Conn. Races Death penalty becomes central issue after home invasion conviction By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff Posted Oct 14, 2010 6:17 AM CDT 1 comment Comments This photo provided the Connecticut Department of Correction shows Steven Hayes. (AP Photo/Connecticut Department of Correction, File) (Newser) – One of the most horrific crimes in Connecticut's history may weigh on the state's elections. Stephen Hayes is awaiting sentencing for the home invasion murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters next week and Republican candidates for Senate and governor have been making the death penalty a central issue. GOP gubernatorial nominee Tom Foley has attacked his rival's opposition to the death penalty, while Senate candidate Linda McMahon accuses Democratic rival Richard Blumenthal of flip-flopping on the issue. "There are a set of swing voters who will base their vote not on the recession, but on this emotional issue because of that case," a politics professor tells the Wall Street Journal. "It's never had this level of importance." The latest poll shows that more than 75% of the state's voters support the death penalty for Hayes—some 10% more than support the death penalty in general.