Defendants can have long jail wait before trial

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copyright the Chronicle July 26, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — According to the U.S. and Vermont constitutions, anyone charged with a crime is entitled to a speedy trial by a jury of his or her peers. But that basic promise can’t be kept in Orleans County because of a lack of money for lawyers, judges, and other court employees, say those who know the system best.

At present, more than 40 people who have pled innocent to crimes in Orleans County Superior Court are behind bars waiting for their trial because they cannot make bail. Some have been waiting for years, and with a court that can manage only a few trials a month they may be waiting for quite a while longer.

The judge in Orleans County Superior Court, the Orleans County State’s Attorney, and the county’s public defender have different views of the situation, but all agree that the judicial system needs more resources if it hopes to break the logjam.

While a vast majority of criminal cases are settled through negotiations resulting in a plea agreement, the bail system was never intended as a means to pressure people to give up their right to a trial.

In fact, the Vermont Constitution gives a substantial amount of attention to the matter of bail. It specifically bans “excessive bail” and sets strict limits on the ability of a judge to hold a person without bail.

The two circumstances in which that is permitted are cases where the penalty is death or life imprisonment, or in acts of violence against another person. In either case, the judge has to determine that the evidence of guilt is strong.

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Murder charge reduced to second-degree

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copyright the Chronicle May 31, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — Orleans County State’s Attorney Jennifer Barrett lowered the charge against the man accused of shooting Ron-Lou Schneider in 2015 from first-degree to second-degree murder Tuesday afternoon.

Ms. Barrett also added a charge of manslaughter against Ryan P. Bacon, 32, of Point Pleasant, New Jersey, during a hearing held in the Criminal Division of Orleans County Superior Court.

Both charges are based on the same set of facts, so Mr. Bacon can only be convicted of one of the charges, Ms. Barrett said after the court hearing.

Judge Howard VanBenthuysen presided over the hearing.

Ms. Barrett said she and Jon Valsangiacomo, Mr. Bacon’s lawyer, will discuss the possibility of a plea agreement and will return to court in two weeks for another status conference.

If the two sides cannot agree on a deal to settle the case, Ms. Barrett said, she will go to trial on one of the charges.

Witnesses to the shooting gave conflicting statements to police, Ms. Barrett said. As a result, it is doubtful that the state could prove the most serious charge, she said.

Under Vermont law, first-degree murder is one “committed by means of poison, or by lying in wait, or by willful, deliberate and premeditated killing, or committed in perpetrating or attempting to perpetrate arson, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery or burglary.”

Any other homicide is considered second-degree murder. Manslaughter refers to killing someone when under sudden passion or great provocation that would mitigate, but not justify, the killing.

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State’s Attorney to launch drug diversion program

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copyright the Chronicle February 8, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — Orleans County State’s Attorney Jennifer Barrett says her office is ready to start a new diversion type program for people with substance abuse problems who have committed minor offenses.

The only thing keeping it from getting off the ground is the lack of the right case, Ms. Barrett said in an interview Monday. She said she needs to find someone who has been charged with a misdemeanor case and is willing to admit to having a substance abuse problem.

When such a case comes across her desk, Ms. Barrett said, she will offer the defendant a chance to expunge the charge through a process that she hopes will lead him or her to combat the addiction.

Her office, like those of other state’s attorneys around Vermont, has received money for efforts to deal with problems connected to the state’s opioid epidemic. Ms. Barrett said state’s attorneys have been given wide latitude to design programs that will respond to the needs of their counties.

She said she designed her program based on a model established by state Attorney General T.J. Donovan when he was Chittenden County State’s Attorney.

To help her in the effort, she has hired Robert Booth to supervise program participants and help guide them toward recovery.

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Brewfest brings in the bucks for cancer patients

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Justin Heller (right) and Tyler Howard (left) cooked for about 400 people on July 11 at Brewfest.  Mr. Howard manned the grill, and Mr. Heller was in charge of smoking meat, a task he started four days before the event.  Photo by Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph

Justin Heller (right) and Tyler Howard (left) cooked for about 400 people on July 11 at Brewfest. Mr. Howard manned the grill, and Mr. Heller was in charge of smoking meat, a task he started four days before the event. Photo by Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph

copyright the Chronicle July 15, 2015

by Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph

NEWPORT CENTER — Brewfest, a fund-raiser held Saturday for cancer patients, brought in about $12,000, said Dr. Leslie Lockridge of the Northeast Kingdom Hematology Oncology Clinic (NEKHO).

Sunshine, beer, barbecue, and music were the order of the day at Kingdom Brewing, where the event was held.

NEKHO staff and patients organized the Brewfest, which was aimed at raising money to fill the clinic’s patient fund once more.

Dr. Lockridge, who owns the clinic, said the money raised would have lasted a couple of years before, but now the number of patients has increased exponentially.

“I’ve been through six months of treatment, and you need an arsenal of things,” Mary Lee Daigle said. “Your whole system is turned upside down.”

Insurance doesn’t begin to cover all the costs a cancer patient can incur.… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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In Newport: Guns, drugs stolen from police evidence room

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Mikeal Rivers.  Photo courtesy of the Vermont State Police

Mikeal Rivers. Photo courtesy of the Vermont State Police

copyright the Chronicle February 11, 2015 

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT — Police say they arrested a man Sunday night whose pockets bulged with drugs and guns stolen from the Newport Police Department’s evidence room. The thefts could place some prosecutions in jeopardy, according to the affidavit filed in the case by State Police Sergeant Matthew Amadon.

Orleans County State’s Attorney Jennifer Barrett declined to comment on what effect the theft might have on her office’s work. She said it will take several days to review cases connected to the stolen evidence.

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Election wrap: Barrett, Viens, Hardy win elections

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Important correction to the November 5, 2014, election results:

House - Orleans-Caledonia.xlsx

These are the full results to the Orleans-Caledonia House race, as it should have appeared in the Chronicle. A cropped version of the chart, with only Chris Braithwaite and Devin Small, was printed in the paper, in error.

Complete election results for each race available in the Chronicle.

copyright the Chronicle November 5, 2014

by Joseph Gresser

Jennifer Barrett was the big winner of Tuesday’s election, scoring a convincing victory to secure the office of Orleans County State’s Attorney. The Republican candidate garnered more votes than the combined totals of her two rivals.

When all votes were counted Ms. Barrett had 3,882, to 2,337 for Democrat James Lillicrap, and 1,486 for independent Ben Luna. The three candidates were all but unavoidable over the course of a long campaign that began this summer as Ms. Barrett faced incumbent State’s Attorney Alan Franklin in the Republican primary and defeated him.

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Barrett defeats Franklin for state’s attorney nomination

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Jennifer Barrett.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

Jennifer Barrett. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle August 27, 2014

Jennifer Barrett was a clear victor in the Orleans County State’s Attorney’s race in the Republican PrimaryTuesday evening, and Paul Lefebvre won as a Republican nominee for the House district that covers parts of Essex County, Caledonia County, and Westmore in Orleans County.

Ms. Barrett had 953 votes to incumbent Alan Franklin’s 656 in the Chronicle’s unofficial election night results.

Mr. Franklin was overwhelmed by a strong challenge from his former deputy.  Ms. Barrett won in all but one of Orleans County’s 19 towns.

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