Whether or not Steven Hayes will be sentenced to death will be decided soon - the case has gone to the jury. Of particular interest, the closing arguments of defense counsel reported in the New York Times as suggesting to the jury that the worst punishment they could give the defendant would be life in prison, not death.
Some might scoff at this - a defense lawyer's trick, just so much balderdash. What could be worse than the death sentence? Lots of folk want Hayes to die for the Petit killings. Death seems the optimal sentence for them.
However, consider what the defense attorney said with knowledge of the realities of living decades behind bars in a maximum security facility (where Hayes would likely reside) perhaps the death sentence does gain a different perspective.
Being confined to a small cell with a severely limited life -- many go mad. Life without parole isn't a reprieve. It is a serious, severe, harsh punishment.