copyright the Chronicle January 3, 2018
by Joseph Gresser
NEWPORT — Jeffrey M. Ray, 53, of Brownington will face a jury rather than try to negotiate a reduction in the first-degree murder charge he faces in the shooting death of Rick Vreeland. Mr. Ray has been held without bail since he entered an innocent plea to the charge in May of 2015.
According to police affidavits, Mr. Ray had a blood alcohol level three times higher than the legal limit when he shot the 53-year-old Mr. Vreeland, who was married to Mr. Ray’s ex-wife.
On Tuesday Mr. Ray appeared with his lawyer, Kyle Hatt, for a pretrial conference in the Criminal Division of Orleans County Superior Court. Judge Robert Bent asked Mr. Hatt if there is a possibility of settling the case before it goes before a jury and received a firm “no” for an answer.
Mr. Hatt and Orleans County State’s Attorney Jennifer Barrett, who will prosecute the case, are scheduled to select a jury on January 22. If all goes as planned, the trial will start the next day.
Judge Bent has blocked out nine days for the trial, which could run through February 1.
On Tuesday Mr. Hatt asked if special questions he had drawn up had been added to the normal queries put to potential jurors in a questionnaire sent out before they are asked to appear in court. They had been.
Mr. Hatt also told Judge Bent that he intends to place a blood alcohol test performed at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in the record as evidence. He said that may require the technician who performed the test to testify in court unless Ms. Barrett agrees to stipulate to the person’s qualifications.
“I encourage people to agree to what they can agree to,” Judge Bent said.
Ms. Barrett did not say what she intends to do.
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