Judge drops murder charge against Baird

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copyright the Chronicle May 4, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

ST. JOHNSBURY — Judge Michael Kupersmith has decided that the third man charged in the 2010 killing of Mary Pat O’Hagan of Sheffield will not be tried for first-degree murder. Keith Baird, 35, of Sheffield will still be tried for burglary and kidnapping, but not in Caledonia County.

Mr. Baird, who pled innocent to the charges in March of 2014, has also filed notice that he intends to argue he has an alibi showing he was not present when the 78-year-old Mrs. O’Hagan was shot during a break-in at her Sheffield home.

Although two other men who have already pled guilty to involvement in Mrs. O’Hagan’s death have said Mr. Baird was with them at her house, he denies it. Mr. Baird said through Robert Katims, his lawyer, that he was wearing a GPS tracker at the time of crime.

The tracking device, he said, shows he was not present at Mrs. O’Hagan’s house on September 10, when she was shot during an attempted burglary.

At the hearing…To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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DUI formula too simplistic

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copyright the Chronicle April 27, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT – State forensic experts will have to rewrite their manuals if the Vermont Supreme Court upholds a decision issued by Judge Howard VanBenthuysen Monday.

The judge, sitting in the Criminal Division of Orleans County Superior Court, said in a written opinion that state experts do not take enough individual factors into consideration when calculating what a person’s blood alcohol level was more than two hours earlier.

The decision concerns what the judge calls “relation-back testimony,” meaning calculations intended to show how quickly a person’s system rids itself of alcohol, and hence what that person’s blood alcohol level was at some time before…To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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In Brownington: Death investigation underway

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copyright the Chronicle March 30, 2016

State Police say that the body of a Brownington man who was found dead Monday evening was taken to the office of the Chief Medical Examiner for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.   Meanwhile, a death investigation is underway. State Police from Derby responded to a 911 call reporting an unresponsive male at a home on the Evansville Road in Brownington about 8:30 p.m. on Monday. There, they found Kevin Smith, 38, of Brownington. The house is surrounded with crime scene tape, and a State Police cruiser remained at the scene Tuesday, but police had released no further details as of press time.

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Derby Select Board: Walmart will create need for more policing

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copyright the Chronicle March 30, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

DERBY — Representatives from the State Police and the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department told the select board here Monday that the soon-to-open Walmart will mean additional police calls.  

Both departments recommended that the town put more resources toward what it said would be a problem.  

Board members were unconvinced.

Lieutenant Walter Smith, who commands the Derby State Police barracks, and Captain Mike Henry, who heads the St. Johnsbury outpost, warned the select board at their meeting Monday evening that other towns that host Walmarts have seen increased reports of shoplifting and fender benders.

Troopers will not be responding to those calls, Lieutenant Smith said.

The Derby State Police contingent is made up of 11 troopers who are responsible for policing 31 towns in Orleans and Essex counties, Lieutenant Smith said.

“Some people call us the Derby State Police,” he said.  “We’re not the Derby State Police.  We’re the State Police.  We just happen to be based in Derby.”…To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Baird wants murder charge dropped

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copyright the Chronicle March 23, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

ST. JOHNSBURY  – The last of the three men charged in the 2010 murder of 78-year-old Mary Pat O’Hagan of Sheffield is asking to have a charge of felony murder dismissed and to have his trial on the remaining burglary and kidnapping charges moved out of Caledonia County.

On Friday, Keith J. Baird, 35, of Sheffield, and his lawyer, Robert Katims, were in the Criminal Division of Caledonia County Superior Court.  Mr. Katims sought to persuade Judge Michael Kupersmith that publicity about the case has made it impossible to pick an unbiased jury locally.  He also argued that the state could not show that Mr. Baird intended…To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Accused murderer questions lawyer

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copyright the Chronicle March 16, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT – A breach between an accused murderer and his lawyer was apparently healed by a talk from Judge Robert Bent.

Jeffrey M. Ray, 52, of Brownington sent a handwritten note to the clerk in the Criminal Division of Orleans Superior Court on February 26 to say he and St. Johnsbury attorney David Sleigh met that day and had “a breakdown with our communication.”

He asked that he be allowed to find a new lawyer.

On May 26, 2015, Mr. Ray pled innocent to first degree murder in the shooting death of Rick Vreeland, 53, also of Brownington, and his former wife’s husband.  Judge Timothy Tomasi ordered Mr. Ray held without bail.

Mr. Ray was in court with Mr. Sleigh Monday morning…To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Clerk foils armed robbery

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copyright the Chronicle February 24, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

GREENSBORO BEND — Police say Joshua L. Chase-Renault walked into Smith’s Store in Greensboro Bend on the evening of February 8 carrying a knife and intending to rob the place.

But Mr. Chase-Renault left the store in a hurry when the clerk pulled out a handgun, said Hardwick Police Detective Kevin Lehoe.

Not only was the clerk armed, but also Hardwick Sergeant Michael Glodgett was watching the store from the parking lot of a sawmill across the street. When he saw a man run out of the store and jump into a car he followed, but gave up the chase after losing him on Stannard Mountain Road.… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Evidence room burglar could get up to 25 years

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copyright the Chronicle January 27, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT – A 20-year-old Newport man faces between eight and 25 years in prison for looting the evidence room at the Newport City Police Station and participating in a burglary spree that hit homes and businesses in Lowell and Troy.

Mikeal Rivers pled guilty or no contest to a string of felonies Tuesday in the Criminal Division of Orleans County Superior Court here.  His plea agreement allows him to contest the length of the sentence proposed by the state.

Should Judge Howard VanBenthuysen decide a long term is merited, Mr. Rivers would…To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Newport Jewelers has first burglary in 34 years

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Newport Jewelers in Newport was burglarized early Monday morning, the first time that’s happened in the 34 years that Lincoln and Jo-Ann Brooks have owned the store.    Photo by Joseph Gresser

Newport Jewelers in Newport was burglarized early Monday morning, the first time that’s happened in the 34 years that Lincoln and Jo-Ann Brooks have owned the store. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle June 3, 2015

by Tena Starr

NEWPORT — For the first time in the 34 years that Newport Jewelers has been in business, it’s been burglarized, said Lincoln Brooks, who owns the store with his wife, Jo-Ann.

At 4 a.m. on Monday, someone broke into the store, broke two jewelry cases, and “snatched and ran,” Mr. Brooks said.

He said that, as of Tuesday, they had not yet done an inventory so were not sure exactly what was missing, though he believes it could have been considerably worse.

A press release from the Newport Police Department says police responded to the alarm at 4:08 a.m. When they arrived, they found a broken window, and two display cases were broken “and items strewn about.”

The Main Street burglary was certainly brazen, Mr. Brooks said….To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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contact Tena Starr at [email protected]

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Ray charged with first-degree murder

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Orleans County Deputy Sheriff Phil Brooks with Jeffrey M. Ray of Brownington, who pled innocent in Superior Court Monday to first degree murder.  Mr. Ray, who is being held without bail, is accused of shooting another Brownington man, Rick Vreeland, Monday morning.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

Orleans County Deputy Sheriff Phil Brooks with Jeffrey M. Ray of Brownington, who pled innocent in Superior Court Monday to first degree murder. Mr. Ray, who is being held without bail, is accused of shooting another Brownington man, Rick Vreeland, Monday morning. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle May 27, 2015

by Tena Starr  

NEWPORT — Jeffrey M. Ray, 51, of Brownington pled innocent here Tuesday to first degree murder and was held without bail.

Mr. Ray is accused of shooting and killing Rick Vreeland, 53, his former wife’s husband, on Monday.

Mr. Ray appeared in the Criminal Division of Orleans Superior Court looking the worse for wear. He was hospitalized on Monday as a result of a struggle with his son, who said he tried to take the gun away from Mr. Ray, his father, after Mr. Ray shot Mr. Vreeland, the boy’s stepfather, a police affidavit says.

The shooting apparently wasn’t a big surprise to those who knew the two men. Police affidavits indicate they had been at odds for years. Mr. Ray had repeatedly….To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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contact Tena Starr at [email protected]

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