As trial looms, state says focus of Steven Bourgoin trial is “why”

Local News

Steven Bourgoin will go on trial May 6th, according to a schedule agreed upon by his defense team, prosecutors and Judge Kevin Griffin.

Judge Griffin heard arguments and updates on roughly eight motions at Vermont Superior Court in Burlington Friday.

Bourgoin is awaiting trial on five counts of second-degree murder, among other charges, related to the wrong-way crash on I-89 that killed five teenagers in October 2016.

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, died in the crash.

“This case is not a case about who committed the crimes on October 8th, 2016,” said Susan Hardin, Chittenden County deputy state’s attorney. “It’s not even a case of whether crimes were actually committed on that date. It’s a question of why those crimes were committed.”

The state is preparing to rebut an insanity defense from Bourgoin’s attorneys.

In court Friday, prosecutors argued, because of the insanity defense, the rules surrounding evidence change.

“There’s an opening of a door. Evidence that normally would not be admitted, may in fact be admitted because it goes directly to the mental state,” said Hardin.

Prosecutors want to be able to counter the insanity defense with testimony from Bourgon’s ex-girlfriend and mother of their child.

Hardin says, the two had a fight in May 2016 that involved erratic behavior behind the wheel.

“At that time, he again threatened her, ‘if you don’t give me 50/50 custody, I’m going to drive us into a pond and we’ll all die together.’ What the state argues the evidence clearly demonstrates is that this defendant, when he gets angry enough, especially over custody issues or financial issues, he will use a vehicle as a weapon,” Hardin argued.

“We think this issue should be reserved until after the defense rebuttal case. At which point, the court will rule on whether this evidence is admissible,” said Robert Katims, Bourgoin’s defense attorney.

Bourgoin’s defense team wants to compel Dr. Reena Kapoor to testify.

The doctor, who was originally an expert for the state, determined Bourgoin was insane at the time of the crash.

The defense team wants to issue an out-of-state subpoena for her to testify at trial.

State’s attorney Sarah George did not oppose the subpoena and has not filed any motions in regards to her testimony.

She says, there’s nothing pending on the matter.

“So the defense can proceed under the assumption that she’s fair ground to be called?” Judge Griffin asked.

“Yes,” she said.

Jury draw is scheduled to begin April 29th.

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