BURLINGTON — A Burlington psychiatrist testified Friday that he believes the driver that killed five Central Vermont teens was not criminally insane during a head-on crash on Interstate 89.
Dr. Paul Cotton said he based his findings on a four-hour interview with Steven D. Bourgoin, 38, of Williston on Dec. 1 at the state prison in Springfield, where he was held without bail.
Three other doctors, who had limited access to Bourgoin while he was treated for life-threatening injuries at UVM Medical Center in the days immediately after the crash, also said they did not see anything they thought would support an insanity defense.
Bourgoin was speeding in the wrong direction when he slammed into the car carrying the five teens at about 11:55 p.m. Oct. 8, 2016, in Williston, police reported. They said Bourgoin had various drugs in his system during the crash.
Eli Brookens, 16, of Waterbury; Janie Chase Cozzi, 15, of Fayston; Liam Hale, 16, of Fayston; Mary Harris, 16, of Moretown and Cyrus Zschau, 16, of Moretown died in the fiery crash. They were enroute home from a concert in South Burlington.
Bourgoin has denied five counts of second degree murder. He also has pleaded not guilty to two subsequent misdemeanor charges: aggravated operation for taking a Williston Police cruiser from the accident site and reckless driving for driving it into the first crash scene.
Friday was expected to be the final day of testimony, but Cotton’s testimony for the prosecution went to about 4 p.m. Judge Kevin Griffin, after a bench conference with the lawyers, told the jurors that cross examination by Bourgoin’s defense team would go beyond 4:30 p.m., the court closing time, and sent them home.
The 10 women and six men on the jury panel will return at 9:15 a.m. Monday. Four alternates will be picked before the final 12 retire to the jury room for deliberations.
The state must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but the defendant, using an insanity defense, only has to show it by a preponderance of the evidence.
Before Cotton’s testimony continues, Griffin plans to meet with lawyers from both sides at 8:30 a.m. Monday to go over his proposed explanation of the law that he expects to provide the jury.
Defense lawyer Robert Katims, who is assisted by Public Defender Sara Puls, is expected to cross examine Cotton on Monday in an effort to undercut the testimony Cotton provided on Friday about Bourgoin, who graduated from Rutland High School, where he played football.
“He was not insane, in my opinion, at the time of those offenses,” Cotton told the jury.
He said it was his belief that Bourgoin lacked the mental disease or defect that is one of the two prongs needed for an insanity defense.
The defense had two expert psychiatrists testify that after multiple lengthy examinations, they each believed Bourgoin was insane at the time of the crash. Dr. David Rosmarin, of McLean Hospital, an affiliate of the Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, was the first to rule Bourgoin was insane.
The prosecution hired Dr. Reena Kapoor, of Yale University, to try to rebut Rosmarin’s testimony, but she found after nearly 13 hours of interviews over three days that Bourgoin was insane.
The other three doctors to testify on Friday were Dr. Roger Knukal, Dr. Steve Runyan and Dr. Suzanne Kennedy from the UVM Medical Center.
“Every head injury is unique,” Knukal said about Bourgoin’s facial fractures.
But he also thought Bourgoin was being evasive when questioned.
“He was making a choice not to answer,” said Knukal, who noted some patients aren’t always forthcoming.
Knukal said that after chatting with Bourgoin the night of Oct. 13, 2016, he was surprised to see the defendant motionless when he was wheeled into a hospital conference room converted into a temporary courtroom so he could be arraigned on the criminal charges.
Runyan said he could find no mental defect or disease.
When State’s Attorney Sarah George asked about any sense of delusion, paranoia, psychosis or mania, Runyan each time said, “None whatsoever.”
When Puls tried questioning Runyan, it got a little contentious. Puls had to cut him off on answers that were unresponsive. At times, he started answering before Puls finished asking the question.
At one point, Griffin said, “Doctor, wait for the question.”
Kennedy said she saw Bourgoin for about 15 to 20 minutes on Oct. 16, 2016, a week after the fatal crash. She said Bourgoin had been placed in four-point restraints in his bed because of his behavior, but did not think he had a mental disease or defect.
The only other rebuttal witness on Friday was State Police Detective Sgt. Eric Jollymore from the computer technology division.
Jollymore testified about studying Bourgoin’s computer and tablet for information on the days leading up to the crash. He testified that he did not find evidence to support claims by Bourgoin that he had researched topics that were possibly linked to a special government mission that he thought he was secretly being drafted to participate in.
Under questioning by the defense, Jollymore said Google was accessed 45 times and Wikipedia 21 times between Oct. 4 and Oct. 7, 2016.