A local man is being held without bail after police said he strangled a Rutland woman to death March 5 in his Rutland home.
Shawn Michael LaPlant, 28, pleaded not guilty Friday in Rutland criminal court to a felony count of second-degree murder for allegedly killing 44-year-old Alicia Harrington.
The charge carries a minimum mandatory penalty of 20 years and a maximum term of life in prison.
Detective Sgt. Samuel Truex, of the Vermont State Police, said in an affidavit that Harrington’s husband, Jaime Harrington, learned in October that Harrington and LaPlant had a sexual relationship at one point.
According to a police affidavit, a person close to the suspect told police on Thursday that LaPlant admitted the murder to her after telling her he wanted to “vent.”
The person “advised (LaPlant) told her that he was going to sell weed to Alicia that day and they got into an argument. (LaPlant) told Alicia, ‘If I can’t have you, nobody can,’ and then he ‘strangled’ her,” Truex wrote in the affidavit.
An acquaintance of LaPlant’s told police Thursday that LaPlant also admitted the murder to him, according to the affidavit.
“(LaPlant) stated that he and Harrington fought for approximately 15 minutes on (LaPlant’s) bed and then he choked her until her lips turned blue,” Truex wrote in the affidavit.
The acquaintance allegedly told police that LaPlant had described putting Harrington’s body into a sleeping bag, which he used to take her from his home and put her in her own car. LaPlant drove Harrington’s body in her 2004 Subaru Impreza to Proctor, where he left her body locked in the car.
Police found the car, with Harrington’s body locked inside, on March 6 after it was reported by a Florence man. The affidavit said the car was locked and no keys were nearby. The acquaintance told police LaPlant had described throwing the car key into the woods and discarding the sleeping bag.
Police said in the affidavit that a sleeping bag was found less than half a mile from the car.
During LaPlant’s arraignment, Rutland County State’s Attorney Rose Kennedy said a key was found Friday morning that police officials believe was the key to Harrington’s Impreza.
A supplemental affidavit described some of the search history found on LaPlant’s phone. Among the pages were searches about chloroform and where it can be found; a page called, “Chloroform: How the ‘Knockout Drug’ Has Been Used to Murder Over the Last 25 Years”; a web search under the question, “If you inject gasoline, how long will it take to kill you?”; a search called, “Delete Your Google Account”; “What happens to someone if you inject chloroform into their neck?”; and “13 Signs You Are Being Used by a Woman Who’s Walking All Over You.”
Kennedy said during LaPlant’s arraignment that the search history suggested “this was something that was planned before March 5.”
Police said in the affidavit that the acquaintance agreed to wear a wire and speak with LaPlant on Thursday.
“(The acquaintance) spoke with (LaPlant) about (Harrington’s) juvenile son, not knowing how (LaPlant) stays in the apartment and sleeps in his bed after what happened. (LaPlant) told (the acquaintance), ‘I really don’t want to talk too much about it.’ …. During discussion, (LaPlant) made no denials to (the acquaintance) nor did he provide any information, details or direct admissions,” Truex wrote. Kennedy said the acquaintance might have implicated himself by telling police he helped LaPlant dispose of items belonging to Harrington while police were investigating her death.
Police interviewed LaPlant in the driveway at 260 West St. on March 6. He talked about being a friend of Harrington but denied having a sexual relationship. In an interview on Thursday, LaPlant again denied having a sexual relationship with Harrington and denied having told anyone he strangled her.
Truex said Jaime Harrington told police his wife continued to buy marijuana from LaPlant after they ended their affair, but around the end of November, LaPlant allegedly threatened to kill her and himself.
Truex wrote in the affidavit that the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that Harrington was strangled and her death was a homicide, but that information has not been released to the public.
Truex said Jaime Harrington called the Rutland City Police Department on March 5 to report Alicia as missing.
“Jaime reported that his wife did not pick their child up from the Tapestry afterschool program, and she has not been heard from. Jaime advised this behavior was out of character for Alicia and he was concerned for her well-being,” the affidavit said.
According to Jaime Harrington, LaPlant was the last person his wife called.
Attorney Chris Montgomery, who represented LaPlant, asked Judge Thomas Zonay to release his client, even though LaPlant faces life imprisonment if convicted, because he had local ties, no criminal record and the statements in the affidavit were hearsay.
Zonay ordered LaPlant held at the Rutland jail until a hearing can be scheduled to determine whether LaPlant will be given a chance to be released pending the resolution of the charges. On Friday afternoon, the court records indicated that hearing had not yet been scheduled.