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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Walters: Hundreds Pay Tribute to Woman Killed by Former Boyfriend

Posted By on Wed, Jul 11, 2018 at 11:55 PM

Kate Root speaking at the vigil as Courtney's Allies stand behind her - JOHN WALTERS
  • John Walters
  • Kate Root speaking at the vigil as Courtney's Allies stand behind her
A poster-size photo of Courtney Gaboriault was taped to the base of "Youth Triumphant," the granite statue in downtown Barre's City Hall Park. Flowers and candles were arrayed beneath the photo. People arriving for a Wednesday evening vigil in honor of Gaboriault stopped to take pictures of themselves with the image of the 29-year-old Barre resident, who was killed on the Fourth of July by her estranged boyfriend, Luke LaCroix. He then killed himself.

About 300 people encircled a gazebo as a group of young women calling themselves Courtney's Allies stood around a microphone and shared memories of Gaboriault. Candles, matchbooks, bottled water and packets of facial tissues were available on folding tables nearby. Most were put to good use. People did their best to protect candle flames from a summer breeze that wafted through the park. A donation box for the Central Vermont Humane Society, Gaboriault's favorite charity, overflowed with pet supplies.

Courtney's Allies had organized the vigil as the first step to give meaning to her death. There was no mention of the controversy that had erupted over a Barre-Montpelier Times Argus story that celebrated the killer more than his victim. The paper has published an explanation and apology.

"Courtney deserved this and so much more," said Kate Root, a friend of Gaboriault who had taken the lead in organizing the vigil. "She was the kindest person. She was always putting herself out for other people." And she added, speaking to Gaboriault, "You'll always be a boss babe to me."

Alex Johns, who had been Gaboriault's roommate, took the microphone to celebrate this "amazing, kind, caring, beautiful person" whose greatest loves in life were "her family; her dog, Roscoe; and T.J. Maxx." Johns recounted their frequent shopping trips to the T.J. Maxx in Burlington and speculated that her late friend may have been responsible for keeping the store in business.

Root told the crowd that Courtney's Allies planned to carry on as an organized effort. Those plans, she said afterward, are still being formulated. "We want to continue the conversation about domestic violence," she said. "We don't want Courtney to be remembered solely for what happened to her."

Judging by the community response and the determination displayed by the group of young women who had suffered a deep loss only a few days earlier, it's almost certain we haven't heard the last of Courtney's Allies.

Correction July 19, 2018: A previous version of this story misstated where the T.J. Maxx store is located.

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Monday, June 11, 2018

Police: Romantic Rivalry Led to Deadly Burlington Bridge Fight

Posted By on Mon, Jun 11, 2018 at 7:00 PM

Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo at a press conference Monday - SARA TABIN
  • Sara Tabin
  • Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo at a press conference Monday
A preplanned Saturday night fight between two young men over a woman ended when one of the men fell 60 feet to his death off a railroad bridge that spans the Winooski River, Burlington police said on Monday.

The surviving combatant, 20-year-old Joshua Granger of Winooski, is now charged with second-degree murder. He pleaded not guilty Monday morning in Vermont Superior Court and remains held in custody without bail.

Granger told police that he'd arranged to fistfight Jared Streeter, 20, on Saturday night at what's known as the Blue Bridge, a span off Intervale Road. The two men had "an ongoing dispute ... regarding a girl they were both interested in," Granger told detectives, according to an arrest affidavit.

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Judge Skeptical of Request to Move Trial of Driver in Crash That Killed Five

Posted By on Thu, May 24, 2018 at 2:21 PM

Steven Bourgoin, left, with defense attorney Bob Katims, center - SARA TABIN
  • Sara Tabin
  • Steven Bourgoin, left, with defense attorney Bob Katims, center
Print media still matters.

A defense motion to move the trial for Steven Bourgoin, accused of killing five teens in an intentional head-on car crash in 2016, was derailed Thursday because Judge Kevin Griffin couldn't access online stories about the case on the Burlington Free Press website.

Bourgoin's attorneys, Bob Katims and Sara Puls, submitted examples of media coverage of the case to argue that a fair and impartial jury could not be found in Chittenden County. But Griffin said Thursday he could not complete a thorough examination of the evidence because he was stymied by the Free Press' subscription paywall.

Hair and beard long and unkempt, Bourgoin stared down at the table before him during much of the hearing. The defendant, who has gained weight during his time in custody, did not speak to the judge but talked quietly with his lawyers. Bourgoin intends to offer an insanity defense.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Two Suspects in Highgate Murder Caught in South Burlington

Posted By on Tue, May 8, 2018 at 9:46 AM

Erika Guttilla, left, and Corey Cassani - VERMONT STATE POLICE
  • Vermont State Police
  • Erika Guttilla, left, and Corey Cassani
Two fugitives wanted in connection with the murder of a Highgate man were caught Tuesday morning in South Burlington, Vermont State Police said.

Authorities arrested Erika Guttilla and Corey Cassani without incident around 1:30 a.m. after a traffic stop on Route 7, near the Shelburne town line.

Guttilla, who police said fatally shot her then-boyfriend, Troy Ford, was held without bail. Cassani, who allegedly played a role in the crime, was held on $25,000 bail.

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Monday, May 7, 2018

Two Highgate Suspects On the Run After Body Found in Woods

Posted By on Mon, May 7, 2018 at 1:42 PM

Erika Guttilla, left, and Corey Cassani - VERMONT STATE POLICE
  • Vermont State Police
  • Erika Guttilla, left, and Corey Cassani
Update, 3:43 p.m.: Police located the suspects' vehicle in Swanton.

Two Highgate residents are wanted by police after dog walkers discovered a murdered man's body in the woods on Saturday.

Vermont State Police believe that Erika Guttilla, 31, shot and killed her then-boyfriend, Troy Ford, several months ago. Guttilla and another Highgate resident police believe was involved, Corey Cassani, 28, are now on the lam and considered armed and dangerous.

According to Guttilla's Facebook page, she and Cassani started dating in January.

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Friday, May 4, 2018

Vermont Supreme Court Overturns KKK Flyers Conviction

Posted By on Fri, May 4, 2018 at 12:28 PM

  • Burlington Police
  • William D. Schenk
A divided Vermont Supreme Court on Friday overturned the disorderly conduct conviction of a Ku Klux Klan member who left recruitment flyers at the homes of two minority women in Burlington in 2015.

In a 3-2 opinion, justices ruled that William Schenk's action did not convey an "imminent threat of harm" as required by the law to support the charge.

Schenk, 21 at the time, told investigators that he was on a KKK recruiting mission and distributed around 50 flyers that read "Join the Klan and save our land." But authorities said he left flyers for just two people: One of the women is African American, and the other identified herself as Mexican, according to court documents.

"The flyer is a recruitment solicitation — its overt message is to join the Ku Klux Klan," former associate justice John Dooley wrote. "It contains no explicit statement of threat. To the extent that it conveys a message of personal threat to the recipient, it is that the Klan will recruit members and inflict harm in the future."

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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Convicted Drug Dealer Charged in Brothers' Fatal Overdoses

Posted By on Wed, May 2, 2018 at 2:27 PM

Left to right: Dennis, Jerry, Penny and  Sean Thibault.  The young men were Penny and Jerry's children. - COURTESY OF PENNY THIBAULT
  • Courtesy Of Penny Thibault
  • Left to right: Dennis, Jerry, Penny and Sean Thibault. The young men were Penny and Jerry's children.
A convicted drug dealer has been charged with providing the fentanyl that killed two brothers in Burlington in 2015, police said.

Robert Robidoux, 34, of Richmond, is charged with selling a drug, death resulting, in the deaths of Sean and Dennis Thibault. The offense carries a 20-year maximum sentence. He's also charged with selling heroin.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Barton Man Busted After Blasting Smoke Detector With a Shotgun

Posted By on Tue, May 1, 2018 at 3:29 PM

  • Courtesy of Vermont State Police
  • Leroy Mason
We've all been there. You're cooking an omelette or burger on the stove, get distracted and, within seconds, your smoke detector is blaring and your blood pressure is skyrocketing.

But we haven't all unloaded in the way that Leroy Mason allegedly did on Monday.

Fed up with "frequent false alarms," the Barton man made like Doc Holliday in the O.K. Corral, twice blasting his smoke detector with a 20-gauge shotgun, Vermont State Police said.

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Prosecutor Drops Most Serious Charges Against Accused Fair Haven School Plotter

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2018 at 12:22 PM

Jack Sawyer with defense attorney Kelly Green in court - FILE POOL PHOTO: GLENN RUSSELL / BURLINGTON FREE PRESS
  • File Pool Photo: Glenn Russell / Burlington Free Press
  • Jack Sawyer with defense attorney Kelly Green in court
Rutland County State's Attorney Rosemary Kennedy has dismissed the most serious charges against the former student who allegedly plotted a massacre at Fair Haven Union High School.

The decision, which comes after weeks of legal challenges, could pave the way for 18-year-old Jack Sawyer to soon be released from jail.

The move has seemed inevitable since April 11, when the Vermont Supreme Court overturned Judge Thomas Zonay's decision to hold Sawyer without bail on the charges — three counts of attempted murder and one count of attempted aggravated assault. He still faces two misdemeanor charges of criminal threatening and carrying a dangerous weapon.

In their ruling, justices said Sawyer's actions were "preparatory" and not "undertaken in the attempt to commit a crime."

In a Friday filing with the court dismissing the charges, Kennedy said the Supreme Court decision rendered the charges "untenable" and left her with "no choice."

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Former Champlain College Student Pleads Guilty in 2015 Drug Killing

Posted By on Wed, Apr 18, 2018 at 5:53 PM

Kevin DeOliveira - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • Kevin DeOliveira
A former Champlain College student pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges that he killed a Burlington man in 2015 over a cocaine debt, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Richard Monroe, 25, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Rutland to a firearms charge for fatally shooting Kevin DeOliveira, 23, and to conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Monroe's plea agreement calls for a 25-year prison sentence, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Federal authorities said that in late 2014, Monroe and DeOliveira argued about several ounces of cocaine that had been damaged. DeOliveira, a New Jersey native, claimed that Monroe owed him several thousand dollars. Monroe disagreed.

On the morning of January 2, 2015, Monroe approached DeOliveira's Greene Street apartment. When DeOliveira opened the door, Monroe shot him once though the eye with a .22 pistol, authorities said.

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