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Man Held Without Bail
West Rutland man denies attempted murder charge

A West Rutland man was charged with a felony count of attempted murder after police said he shot at a man he was trying to rob in West Rutland on Friday.

Christopher D. Hale, 27, pleaded not guilty in Rutland criminal court on Monday to felony charges of first-degree attempted murder and attempted assault and robbery. Hale also pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor counts of violating his conditions of release from custody.

Hale was ordered held without bail until a hearing can be scheduled to determine whether he will be given a chance to be released from custody pending the resolution of the charges.

If convicted of the attempted murder charge, Hale could face a life sentence with a presumptive minimum term of 35 years in prison.

Joshua Stone, 28, of Rutland, was charged in Rutland criminal court with a felony count of attempted assault and robbery in connection with the same incident. Stone, who also pleaded not guilty, was ordered held on $10,000 bail.

In an affidavit, Detective Sgt. Henry Alberico, of the Vermont State Police, said he learned around 8:30 p.m. on Friday about an “altercation” in West Rutland, during which a gun had been fired. Alberico said he learned that Rutland City Police Officer Jimmy Plakas, who was off-duty at the time, heard the gunshot and reported it. He saw a silver Jeep Commander that was later spotted and stopped in Rutland.

The Jeep was driven by Stone. Hale and another person were passengers.

The second passenger told police Stone and Hale had gone to the home of a man to sell him marijuana.

The passenger told police Stone went into a Pleasant Street apartment. When he came out, he said he had been robbed at gunpoint. The passenger said they went to an apartment on Harrison Avenue in West Rutland where Hale was staying and he went in and came back out with a handgun, a BB gun and a baseball bat.

According to the affidavit, the passenger said the three of them and a third man returned to the Pleasant Street home where Hale and the other man went to the door. The passenger told police Hale and the other man came running back. The passenger reported hearing a gunshot but didn’t know who fired the gun.

The passenger said the four of them went back to Harrison Avenue and the unknown man and Hale went inside. The passenger said when Hale came back, he didn’t have the gun. They were driving to Rutland City when they were stopped, the passenger said.

The third man told police he heard a gunshot but didn’t know if it was Stone or Hale.

However, police said they found a .25 millimeter hand gun in the man’s room, which they took as evidence.

The rest of Stone’s story to police was similar to the passenger’s, but Stone said when they returned to the Pleasant Street home and banged on the door, someone yelled, “Hold on.”

“Fearful that (the man in the home) had a gun, they all ran down the stairs and into the road. While running toward the Jeep, Chris kept pointing the gun and trying to fire it. However, Josh kept hearing a ‘click’ and knew the gun wasn’t functioning. Finally, while Chris was pointing the gun towards the house, the gun went off,” the affidavit said.

Hale told a similar story but only talked about bringing a BB gun.

Alberico said he located conditions of release from custody imposed on Hale that required him to observe a 24-hour curfew and a condition that he not have weapons.

The man in the Pleasant Street home told police about an altercation but didn’t talk about the incident Stone alleged, where the man robbed Stone. He said three men had come to his home and ran off but said one fired a gun at him. The man retrieved a bullet and turned it over to police.

The charges against Stone were based on the same police report.

Stone, if convicted, could face up to 10 years in jail.

The charges pending against Hale, for which the court had set conditions of release, were possession of brass knuckles in January 2017 and unlawful restraining, unlawful mischief and interference with access to emergency services from March 2017.

patrick.mcardle

@rutlandherald.com


Photo by Jon Olender  

Castleton Fire Department members use their ladder truck to spray water onto the second floor of the Benson Village Store during a structure fire on Monday evening. Firefighters from the Benson, Orwell and Castleton fire departments responded to the call.


Local
Jury draw starts in Bourgoin trial

BURLINGTON — Jury selection got underway Monday for a Williston man charged after a wrong-way crash that killed five teens on Interstate 89.

Police say Steven D. Bourgoin was speeding, driving the wrong way and had THC and other drugs in his system when he slammed his truck into a Volkswagen in Williston at about 11:55 p.m. Oct. 8, 2016. A state judge ordered a blood draw of Bourgoin because of the impairment he displayed at the scene, police said.

Bourgoin, 38, has pleaded not guilty to five counts of second degree murder and plans to use an insanity defense — which was front and center during the first day of jury selection.

The five deaths are believed to be the largest mass homicide case charged criminally in Vermont history.

By asking questions about mental health and the media in individual sessions, the court is hoping to avoid answers from prejudicing the panel. Before Monday, panel members had been given a 24-page questionnaire with 84 questions to help the lawyers focus on issues.

Judge Kevin Griffin briefed 58 potential jurors on Monday about the basis for trial by reading the criminal charges Bourgoin faces. The panel members were later sent to another courtroom and, one by one, 50 of them returned for individual questioning by the prosecution and defense before court closed for the day.

The answers ranged from the first juror interviewed, who said he was unaware of any media coverage because he does not follow any news, to a former Burlington Free Press reporter, who admitted to reading as much as possible to stay informed.

By the end of the day, 14 jurors had been excused for cause.

Griffin said the eight that were not questioned individually on Monday will need to return Tuesday and be joined by 38 new potential jurors. Those that are still in the running by the end of Tuesday will return Wednesday and will be joined by the 36 that were still in the running at the close of court Monday.

The prosecution on Monday seemed to focus more on media coverage, while the defense focused on mental health.

The psychiatrists retained by both the prosecution and defense have said they believe Bourgoin was insane at the time of the crash, but State’s Attorney Sarah George is hoping to show Bourgoin should be held responsible. George and Deputy State’s Attorney Susan Hardin may use Bourgoin’s former girlfriend, Anila Lawrence, and a third doctor to overcome the findings of the other two.

Some potential jurors expressed they were uneasy with the nature of the case, while other jurors had personal issues.

A few witnesses said they were aware of the facts in the case, but when pressed for answers, offered incorrect information. A few said a stolen Williston Police cruiser was used to run into the Volkswagen, killing the teens. The cruiser was taken after the fatal crash and returned to the site to run into Bourgoin’s truck, prosecutors have said.

A driver’s education teacher-coach said he had discussed the case with students. He, along with a former guidance counselor at Burlington High and a handful of others working with teenagers, said the trial would be difficult due to the victims, but all promised to do the best they could if picked.

A couple of potential jurors also had experienced tragedy: one said his grandfather was killed on the way home from church by a drunk driver who was home on military leave. Another juror said her sister was murdered out of state.

A few jurors admitted knowing George, the state’s attorney, and liked her. One panel member said defense attorney Robert Katims had done legal work for a family member. Another said Hinesburg Police Chief Frank Koss, who is a potential witness, once gave her some brownies when she was doing research on ancestors.

Besides the five homicide charges, Bourgoin also has denied single charges of aggravated operation of a Williston Police cruiser without authorization and reckless driving of the vehicle by crashing it into the first accident scene.

Bourgoin, who played football and graduated from Rutland High School, saw his life spiraling out of control in the days and weeks leading up to the crash, police said.

Bourgoin was due to go on trial in November 2016 for a domestic assault charge. He had quit his job at Lake Champlain Chocolates warehouse in Williston the day before the crash complaining about issues he was facing. Police found a foreclosure notice at his condominium at 103 Madson Drive and other financial difficulties including utilities being turned off, officials said.

Bourgoin also was in a custody dispute with his ex-girlfriend over their 2.5-year-old daughter, officials said. He had been placed on probation in Massachusetts for an earlier domestic assault case involving Lawrence, court records show.


Local
Graves of Revolutionary War veterans honored in Ira

IRA — On a cold, windy morning, the Ann Story Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, with the help of a New Orleans couple, dedicated the markers on the gravestones of two veterans, a father and son, of the war of independence.

The headstones of Thomas Collins, who died on March 25, 1793, and his son, Benoni Collins, who died on Sept. 5, 1822, now bear the markers. Mike Collins, of New Orleans, placed the marker on the grave of his ancestor, Thomas, at Riverside Cemetery.

Despite the rain, about 30 people were at the dedication, including members of the Vermont Patriot Guards and a Color Guard from the American Legion Post 87 in West Rutland.

At the cemetery, Mike Collins, who said Thomas Collins was his grandfather going back six generations, said his ancestor bought a farm from the town that had been “confiscated from British sympathizers who decided it was best to leave town sometime during the war.”

Thomas Collins was a member of the Massachusetts Militia and fought in the Battle of Bennington. Benoni Collins was also a member of the militia in Massachusetts and was part of a regiment called up in 1775 by a letter known as the “Lexington Alarm,” letting colonists know the war with the British had begun.

Benoni and his brother, also named Thomas, donated the land to the town of Ira that was used for the town hall and the Baptist Church.

Mike Collins said as he thought of what he might say at Saturday’s ceremony, he thought about the current state of national politics. He said he thought about how those who fought in the Revolution “put aside political, religious and regional differences to work together to create a new country.”

Collins said he wondered what his ancestors would think of the current state of America.

“We have allowed politicians, political commentators and others to build up these walls between us. If you really want to honor these men, think about how we can tear down those walls. There is no need to make America great again because America always has been and always will be great as long as we continue to treat each other with respect and dignity and are willing to work together toward a greater good,” he said.

At a reception after the ceremony at the Ira Town Hall, Barbara Giffin, regent of the local Daughters of the American Revolution, or DAR, said they had worked for about a year to put together Saturday’s ceremony. Giffin, who acted as a sort of master of ceremonies, said she appreciated the number of people who attended the ceremony.

“A lot of friends and family came. A lot of people who had grown up in Ira to experience their town’s history. It was exciting,” she said.

Giffin added with a laugh, “I’m glad it’s over. I’ve been dreading the weather since last Wednesday.”

Collins, who was a history major, said he knew he had ancestors who fought in the American Revolution, but said a visit to Rutland County in the fall of 2017 was the first time he had seen the graves.

He credited his wife, Debbie Collins, with suggesting he make a request to the local DAR to mark the headstones as belonging to Revolutionary War veterans.

Nancy Snow West, past regent and historical liaison for the Ann Story chapter of the DAR, said providing markers takes some time and for Thomas and Benoni Collins, the process took more than a year. Permission has to be granted from the cemetery, which West said happened quickly in Ira, and the national DAR organization must confirm the information provided by the descendants of the veterans.

The DAR has a dedication to American history but for Collins, Saturday’s ceremony meant something more.

“It’s family. When you think about what these men had to go through, living in the late 1700s, just carving out a life and then going to war. … Being a history major just makes it that much more meaningful. To actually come up here and see their resting place, it means a lot. It just kind of brings the family together,” he said.

patrick.mcardle

@rutlandherald.com


Local
Rail crossing lawsuit settled

The Park Street rail crossing is no longer standing in the way of the fire coverage upgrade.

The city settled a lawsuit last week against the Vermont Agency of Transportation (AOT) and Vermont Rail System over the two organizations requiring the city to sign a “master licensing agreement” before they would cooperate with the replacement of water lines running under the track. A letter from VRS President David Wulfson clears the city to proceed with the project.

“We value our relationship with you and the City and look forward to working together with you,” read the letter, addressed to Mayor David Allaire.

A call to the railway was not immediately returned Monday.

Allaire said he expected work on the project to begin in 30 to 60 days.

“There will be a future sit-down, beginning with myself and David Wulfson, to figure out how to go ahead with future projects,” Allaire said.

The project was launched in response to the effect that fighting the 2014 Rutland Plywood fire had on water pressure in nearby neighborhoods. When the city inquired in 2016 whether it would need a permit from AOT to replace pipes running under the tracks at the Park Street crossing, the agency replied that the city would instead need to sign a master licensing agreement (MLA) in order to proceed.

The city objected to several provisions in the MLA, including that it would apply to all crossings in the city, require the city to indemnify AOT and Vermont Rail System for any damages associated with the pipes — even if they were caused by the other party’s negligence — and would have given AOT and Vermont Rail System the ability to disallow additional water and sewer infrastructure at crossings without cause.

The city sued to force the state and the railway to cooperate without the agreement, and the lawsuit was scheduled for trial later this week.

gordon.dritschilo

@rutlandherald.com


Spotlight

“We are a Jewish nation that will stand tall. We will not let anyone take us down. Terrorism like this will not take us down.”

Yisroel Goldstein, rabbi at the synagogue Chabad of Poway, where a shooter killed a woman and injured three people near San Diego on Saturday. — B4

PFAS plan

Vermont lawmakers pass legislation that would require public water systems to test for a class of potentially toxic chemicals, PFAS. A2

Fire code

Several upgrades remain to bring the Rutland fire station up to fire code. A3

Turned down

Poultney officials reject a pair of petitions that had aimed to change local zoning, both spurred by a Dollar General proposal. A3


RHD Hotspot

Today

Jazz Ensemble Performance

Castleton University’s Jazz Ensemble will be performing four movements from part of the Berlin Suite, in addition to other jazz numbers. $10, 7 p.m. Casella Theater, 45 Alumni Drive, Castleton, elicia.mailhiot@castleton.edu, 802-468-1013.