updated 01/27/2012 AT 12:00 PM ET
•originally published 01/27/2012 AT 12:30 PM ET
“Evil does live among us and we need to rid the world of it,” he told the court. “My only hope is for justice to be served.”
Explaining the impact of the loss of his family, Petit told the court, “I have a difficult time sleeping and trusting anymore. I hope to continue honoring my family.”
“I could go on for hours and hours,” he said during his 18-minute address. “What do I miss? What has the impact been? I miss the entire family – our home, everything we had together as a group.”
The other defendant, Stephen Hayes, was sentenced to death in December 2010.
They were convicted of holding the Petit family hostage for hours before setting the house on fire on July 23, 2007. Dr. Petit’s wife, Jennifer-Hawke-Petit, 48, was strangled to death and his daughters, Michaela, 11, and Hayley, 17, died of smoke inhalation.
After his family was killed, Petit established a foundation in their honor called petitfamilyfoundation.org.
In court on Friday, Dr. Petit’s father, Bill Petit Sr., described his race to his son’s home after police called him that morning to tell him what happened.
That day “destroyed our lives,” he said through tears, pausing several times to compose himself. “Our lives will never be the same. The only place we can be with Jennifer, Hayley and Michaela is at the cemetery. We lost the Bill we knew, and it is heartbreaking daily to watch him.”
Friday marked the end of a nearly five-year ordeal for Petit, who attended every hearing for both cases.
Now, though, he has a brighter future to look forward to than he did this time last year. On Dec. 30, he got engaged to photographer Christine Paluf, 34, who was in court Friday to support him. They have not yet set a wedding date.