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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Lawsuit: Nectar's Negligence Caused 'Wild West'-Style Shooting

Posted By on Wed, Jan 16, 2019 at 7:16 PM

  • File photo: Matthew Thorsen
  • Nectar's
Actions by employees of Nectar's led to the shooting of an innocent bystander outside the popular Burlington nightclub last February, attorneys for the victim claim in a civil lawsuit filed against the club Wednesday.

They contend that Nectar's employees acted in a "profoundly irresponsible" and "outrageous" manner when they returned a handgun they'd seized during a dispute between bar patrons and told Rashad Nashid to "take it outside."

He did, and, according to police, he and another man got into a fight, then drew guns. Nashid allegedly shot bystander Chelsi Parker, 27, who police said was nearly killed.

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Monday, January 14, 2019

White Nationalist Crashes Press Conference on Racial Harassment of Kiah Morris

Posted By on Mon, Jan 14, 2019 at 3:52 PM

  • Derek Brouwer
  • Kiah Morris
Updated 8:14 p.m.

A self-proclaimed white nationalist accused of harassing former state representative Kiah Morris strode into the Congregation Beth El synagogue in Bennington during a press conference held Monday to announce the findings of a state probe into alleged racist acts against the ex-lawmaker.

Morris, a Bennington Democrat who is African American, cited years of racial harassment when she resigned from her position last fall before the end of her term.

The press conference went off the rails when Bennington resident Max Misch entered the room as Morris answered a television reporter's question about the AG's probe. Misch had been subject to a yearlong protective order in 2016 prohibiting him from contacting Morris over a series of racist tweets, messages and online comments he aimed at her.

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Catholic Diocese Reviews Sexual Abuse Allegations Involving 52 Priests

Posted By on Thu, Jan 10, 2019 at 10:12 PM

Bishop Christopher Coyne - DEREK BROUWER
  • Derek Brouwer
  • Bishop Christopher Coyne
A lay committee created by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington has identified 52 former or deceased priests accused of sexually abusing children in Vermont. The names of those with substantiated allegations against them will be released as soon as next month, Bishop Christopher Coyne said Thursday night at St. Mary's Church in St. Albans.

About 75 people attended the first in a series of what the bishop calls public town hall meetings around the state this month.

The meetings are being held as the diocese faces a fresh investigation led by the Vermont Attorney General's Office into decades-old abuse of children at the former St. Joseph's Orphanage in Burlington.

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Monday, January 7, 2019

Overdoses Prompt Policy Change in Vermont Prisons

Posted By on Mon, Jan 7, 2019 at 3:03 PM

  • Dreamstime
Two inmates overdosed over the weekend in the Northwest State Correctional Facility in Swanton, prompting corrections officials to place the prison on lockdown while Vermont State Police canines searched for drugs.

One inmate was discovered without a pulse, but both survived. Corrections Commissioner Mike Touchette said the drug they ingested was likely K2 or Spice — synthetic cannabinoids.

Corrections officials said both inmates were given the overdose-reversal drug Narcan. The department acknowledged that Narcan doesn’t have an effect in reversing a non-opiate overdose, but it’s policy to administer the drug whenever an inmate is found unresponsive with no apparent injuries.

Two other Vermont inmates have overdosed during the past six months or so. Staff quickly used Narcan to reverse those overdoses.

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Friday, January 4, 2019

Vermont Supreme Court: State Police Liable in Search

Posted By on Fri, Jan 4, 2019 at 3:56 PM

Vermont Supreme Court - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Vermont Supreme Court
The Vermont Supreme Court ruled unanimously Friday in favor of an African American motorist who challenged a 2014 stop by a state trooper as unlawful and racially motivated. The ruling said the police could be held liable for the improper stop and search.

The Vermont ACLU, which represented motorist Gregory Zullo, said in a press release that the ruling was a victory for all Vermonters, and especially Vermonters of color such as Zullo.

"Police have had enormous discretion to stop and search motorists, including for erroneous or pretextual reasons and on the basis of implicit or explicit bias," said Lia Ernst, the ACLU attorney who argued the case. "In ruling that police can be liable for such acts, this decision sends a clear message — no one is above the law, and if police make bad stops, they can and will be held accountable.”

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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Police: Burlington Man Stole Packages With Kid in Tow

Posted By on Tue, Dec 18, 2018 at 2:55 PM

  • Courtesy Burlington Police Department
  • Jackie Walters
Burlington police arrested a man who allegedly traveled around the Queen City under cover of darkness while giving packages to a child.

But unlike Santa Claus, Jackie Walters wasn't making deliveries. The 33-year-old Burlington resident was allegedly stealing packages from homes in the city's Old North End and Hill Sections. The 11-year-old child Walters brought along was an "unwitting accomplice," according to police.

“The man had been seen roaming the city overnight, allegedly removing whatever packages he could find,” Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo wrote in a press release after Walters was arrested Tuesday morning.

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Friday, December 14, 2018

Church Street Mural Vandalism Suspect Avoids Criminal Charges

Posted By on Fri, Dec 14, 2018 at 1:18 PM

A tarp covering the mural after the Halloween vandalism - FILE: MATTHEW ROY
  • File: Matthew Roy
  • A tarp covering the mural after the Halloween vandalism
Prosecutors have decided to hold off on charges for Eric Maier, a Burlington musician who was arrested last week on suspicion of twice defacing a controversial downtown mural.

Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George told Seven Days via email Friday that Maier’s case was referred to the Burlington Community Justice Center.

"CJC referrals are pre-charge, so he’s not officially 'charged,'" George wrote, "but we didn’t decline to prosecute it either. If [Maier] completes CJC then he won’t have to appear in court. If he does not, he will be officially 'charged' and have to appear in court."

Maier, who performed with the recently disbanded psych-pop quintet Madaila, was arrested December 5, more than a month after he allegedly used a chemical solution to destroy parts of the mural depicting Caucasian people’s faces. Margaux Higgins of Burlington was arrested November 7 on suspicion of being an accessory to the crime.

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Friday, December 7, 2018

Madaila Band Member Charged With Defacing Burlington Mural

Posted By on Fri, Dec 7, 2018 at 1:38 PM

A tarp covering the mural after the Halloween vandalism - FILE: MATTHEW ROY
  • File: Matthew Roy
  • A tarp covering the mural after the Halloween vandalism
  • Burlington Police
  • Eric Maier
Burlington police charged a member of the now-defunct psychedelic-pop band Madaila with twice vandalizing the controversial “Everyone Loves a Parade!” mural in October.

Eric Maier, 32, faces a felony and misdemeanor charge of unlawful mischief; he’s due in court next week. Cops also cited Margaux Higgins, 21, as an accessory to the crime.

Police believe Maier spray painted the word “Colonizers” across the public art on October 19. Then on Halloween, police say, Maier used a solvent to remove the faces of the white people leading the parade depicted in the 124-foot-long mural and spray painted pink dollar signs in their places.

“Damage is estimated at $5,000 to $10,000 and may not be repairable,” Burlington police Det. Thomas Chenette wrote in a press release Friday announcing the arrests.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Sanders, Leahy and Welch Object to Border Patrol's Checkpoint Plans

Posted By on Tue, Nov 27, 2018 at 5:06 PM

A sign near the border - FILE: MARK DAVIS
  • File: Mark Davis
  • A sign near the border
Vermont's congressional delegation is objecting to U.S. Customs and Border Protection's plans to resume controversial checkpoints far from the Canadian border.

The Border Patrol has not publicly announced its intention. But the delegation's staffers were recently briefed about the plan by Border Patrol officials, according to David Carle, spokesman for Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

The Border Patrol has the authority to stop and search travelers without a warrant or reasonable suspicion within 100 miles of an international boundary or coastal body of water, a zone that includes about 90 percent of Vermont.

"We are concerned to learn of the U.S. Border Patrol’s plans to operate a number of immigration checkpoints in the interior of Vermont," the delegation said in a joint statement. "While these checkpoints will cause needless delays for travelers and hinder commerce between Vermont and Canada, we are not convinced that they will make Vermont or the United States any safer. Rather, they appear to be another escalation of the Trump Administration’s aggressive yet wasteful use of immigration enforcement resources."

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Friday, November 16, 2018

Supreme Court Orders New Trial for Former Senator Norm McAllister

Posted By on Fri, Nov 16, 2018 at 3:10 PM

  • File: Pool Photo/Gregory J. Lamoureux/County Courier
  • Norm McAllister in court
The Vermont Supreme Court has ordered a new trial on a charge that former state senator Norm McAllister engaged in a prostitution scheme with a woman living on his farm.

The court said Judge Martin Maley made two mistakes in McAllister’s trial: He allowed jurors to consider separate sex-for-rent allegations for which McAllister was never convicted, and he improperly told the jury to ignore statements by McAllister’s accuser.

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