Steven Bourgoin will spend at least the next 30 years in prison for the horrific wrong-way crash that killed five teenagers in October 2016.
Bourgoin, 38, was convicted in May of five counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of 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.
Defense attorneys argued at trial that Bourgoin was insane at the time of the crash. But the jury rejected that defense.
Calling the crimes “horrific” and worthy of significant time in prison, Chittenden County Superior Court Judge Kevin Griffin sentenced Bourgoin to 26 years to life on each of the five second-degree murder counts. The sentences will be served concurrently.
He also imposed a 4-to-5 year sentence on top of that for stealing a police cruiser after the initial crash and roaring back through scene at speeds of up to 100 mph, crashing a second time and injuring several others.
The sentence was handed down after hours of emotional testimony from the families of the teenagers. They said through his “selfish acts,” Bourgoin stole the teens’ lives from themselves, their parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and the community.
At the sentence hearing on Monday, Families of the victims shared emotional statements.
Parents spoke directly to Bourgoin asking him to take responsibility and some even forgave him.
“My only hope for you is that you can reconcile what you’ve one and your actions and that you can repent and understand what grace is,” said Dan Harris.
Family members also took the time to remind everyone how special their child was.
“He was the most beautifully present person and the most accepting person,” said Bob Brookins, father of Eli Brookins.
Liz Harris, the mother of victim Mary Harris, told Bourgoin there were no words to quantify what he took from her. One father said he must forgive Bourgoin so he can be like his own late daughter, who he described as having grace.
The court also allowed videos of the victims to be played. A five minute school project made by Eli Brookins was presented along with an eight minute video of Liam Hale that included videos and pictures of him.
Bourgoin did not testify at his jury trial. On Monday, at the end of the sentencing hearing, he apologized.
Griffin said the sentence does not mean Bourgoin’s life is over and that he has “a lot to offer” others during his confinement. He also said the tragic case was not a failure of the state’s mental health system.
“There is no question in the court’s mind that you have experienced trauma, but there is every indication that you declined to get the help you needed,” he said.
The case will automatically be reviewed by the Vermont Supreme Court
This story includes information reported by the Associated Press.