Judge rejects mistrial in wrong-way crash killing 5 teens
BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont judge on Monday rejected a request for a mistrial made on behalf of a man facing five murder charges for causing a crash that killed five teenagers while he was driving the wrong way on Interstate 89 in Williston almost three years ago.
The attorneys for Steven Bourgoin made the request after testimony Friday by Bourgoin’s ex-fiance about whether he told her he saw wrong-way signs on the interstate.
Defense Attorney Bob Katims told the judge he was unaware of the conversation between the ex-fiance, Anila Lawrence, and Bourgoin because prosecutors never disclosed the interview they did with Lawrence.
But Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George said a recording of the interview of Lawrence had been turned over to the defense and that she had given an oral disclosure of Lawrence’s statement to either Katims or Bourgoin’s other lawyer, Sara Puls.
Vermont Superior Court Judge Kevin Griffin said he could find no evidence the information had been turned over to the defense, but said Bourgoin’s lawyer chose to make a tactical decision not to do more with Lawrence’s possible testimony. Griffin also ordered the jury to disregard the specific testimony from Lawrence about the discussion concerning wrong-way signs.
“The defense made a tactical decision to not use a discovery tool, which the court believes could have easily led to the information that’s at issue here,” Griffin said. “And with tactical decisions you live with the consequences.”
Monday was the sixth day of the trial of Bourgoin, 38, of Williston. He has pleaded not guilty to five counts of second-degree murder and other charges stemming from the October 2016 crash that killed Mary Harris, 16, of Moretown; Cyrus Zschau, 16, of Moretown; Liam Hale, 16, of Fayston; Janie Cozzi, 15, of Fayston; and Eli Brookens, 16, of Waterbury.
Bourgoin’s attorneys do not dispute he was driving the pickup truck involved in the crash, but they argue he was insane at the time.