Dr. William Petit Jr. is seen with his daughters Michaela,...

Dr. William Petit Jr. is seen with his daughters Michaela, front, Hayley, and his wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, in Cape Cod, Mass. Dr. Petit was severely beaten and his wife and two daughters were killed during a home invasion in Cheshire, Conn., on July 23, 2007. Credit: AP

A Cheshire police captain faced tough cross-examination Wednesday about his department's response to the 2007 home invasion that resulted in the death of a woman and her two daughters.

Capt. Robert Vignola said he had no idea that violence was going on inside the Petit home.

Defense attorney Thomas J. Ullmann, cross-examining Vignola after the police captain gave his account to prosecutors, showed the court a timeline of events that showed 33 minutes elapsed from a bank employee's call alerting police to a possible hostage situation, to confirmation by police that at least one person at the home was in distress.

Vignola testified that police were following the proper protocol for a hostage situation. He said the information they had showed no violence. It was confusing, he said, and "still makes no sense today."

Dr. William Petit Jr., who was beaten by the intruders and lost his wife and daughters in the attack, sat in the front row as Vignola testified in the trial of Steven Hayes, one of two men charged in the July 23, 2007, slayings.

Vignola said a bank employee called police to say a woman named Jennifer Hawke-Petit was at the bank and needed money to free her family. A white male driving a Chrysler Pacifica picked up Hawke-Petit at the bank.

Hawke-Petit and her daughters, Hayley and Michaela, would die in the home that day. Hayes is on trial on multiple charges in the case. He could face the death penalty.


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