Vermont lawyer helps free Gitmo detainee


copyright the Chronicle July 27, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

Abu Zahir was cleared to return to his country on July 11, exactly 14 years after he was arrested by U.S. forces at his home in Afghanistan. For most of that time Mr. Zahir was held prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, while a pair of Vermont lawyers worked on his behalf.

One of the two, David Sleigh of St. Johnsbury, said Monday that Mr. Zahir was “recommended for transfer without reservation.” Mr. Sleigh said that means he will not be under supervision on his return to Afghanistan.

In its “unclassified summary of final determination,” his periodic review board noted Mr. Zahir’s “limited role in Taliban structure and activities, and the assessment that [he] was probably misidentified as the individual who had ties to al-Qaeda weapons facilitation” as some of its reasons for allowing his release.

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Judge drops murder charge against Baird


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.

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