Jurors at Steven Bourgoin’s murder trial had the chance to watch the defendant on surveillance video recorded the morning of October 8, 2016, when Bourgoin visited the emergency room at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington.
Hours later, prosecutors say, Bourgoin drove the wrong way on I-89 and slammed into a car carrying five teenagers. 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, were killed.
Bourgoin is charged with five counts of second-degree murder, and on Tuesday, defense attorneys continued to try and convince jurors that Bourgoin was legally insane and suffering from intense delusions.
Victoria Poulin was a triage nurse on duty at UVM Medical Center when Bourgoin came in the morning of the crash. She testified that Bourgoin told her he had concerns over a relationship and a “safe place.”
Physician assistant Lauren MacNee told jurors Bourgoin was stressed about “separation from his ex-girlfriend [and] starting a new job on Monday.”
Bourgoin’s attorney says he was inferring messages from his truck radio, electronics and a poster in a restricted area of the hospital.
Margaret McLaren, an ER nurse, called security on Bourgoin,
“He said one sentence which was ‘I’m looking at this poster.’ He spoke in a normal tone of voice,” she testified.
Joseph O’Connor, a security officer who responded to the call, said Bourgoin said, “‘I’m sorry, I’ll just leave’ and he walked down the hallway.”
Another security officer, Joseph Miller, testified that he monitored Bourgoin’s comings and goings both in person and by security camera. He said Bourgoin seemed polite and friendly.
After leaving the premises, Bourgoin returned and checked in as a patient. When Bourgoin got settled into a room, he refused to let them take his belongings.
David Rosmarin, a forensic psychiatrist hired by the defense, testified Bourgoin thought he was on a government mission and needed his passport on him at all times in case he got “whisked away.”
MacNee allowed him to keep his belongings and met with him for 20 minutes, she says.
She told him to follow up with his primary care doctor, gave him information on other resources and left to draw up his discharge paperwork.
He left without the paperwork at around 11:03 am.
None of the witnesses from the UVM Medical Center said they noticed or wrote down any sign of delusions.
However, at least one noted his language was disjointed at times.
Dr. Madelon Baranoski, a psychiatric professor at Yale University, also testified.
She evaluated Bourgoin for 7 hours in September 2018 to test his psychology, cognitive functioning, personality structure and to determine whether he was malingering, or lying or exaggerating his symptoms.
She was asked to do these tests by Dr. Reena Kapoor, who at the time was hired by the prosecution to determine Bourgoin’s mental state the night of the crashes.
Dr. Baranoski determined he was not malingering.
She said he had an IQ of 118 which is above average and has borderline personality disorder.
“For a period of time, a short period of time, a person can be psychotic. In addition, they can also show disruptive emotion where a person can become rageful,” said Dr. Baranoski.
In her report, she deemed him depressed and at risk of suicide.
“I don’t think he’s lying, faking or malingering,” said Dr. David Rosmarin.
Dr. Rosmarin finished up his second day of testimony Tuesday.
He said Bourgoin has bipolar disorder and was “grossly psychotic” at the time of the crash.
Monday he outlined all the delusions Bourgoin said he was suffering in the days leading up to the crash, too.
His belief Bourgoin was not suicidal was called into question several times during cross examination, including when he crashed the police cruiser.
“Are those actions life preserving?” asked Sarah George, Chittenden County state’s attorney.
“They are almost certain death,” replied Dr Rosmarin.
“In that crash, he is not wearing his seatbelt, correct?” asked George.
“I don’t think so,” answered Dr. Rosmarin.
George also asked him about “morbid thoughts” Bourgoin confessed to having.
“Although he did deny suicidal thoughts, he admitted to having morbid thoughts. that everything that made life worth living had been taken from him?” asked George.
“Yes,” replied Dr. Rosmarin.
“And so what is the value of living?” asked George.
“Yes he had those morbid thoughts,” said Dr. Rosmarin.
Bourgoin was labeled a heavy marijuana user in court Tuesday.
He told Dr. Rosmarin he would be “agitated and aggressive” when he didn’t use it.
Testimony showed he stopped using marijuana and THC oil a few days before but may have smoked hash oil on the day of the crash.
Low levels of THC were found in his blood after the crash.
“Do you have an opinion about whether or not this event was some type of THC, marijuana induced psychosis?” asked Robert Katims, Bourgoin’s defense attorney.
“I have an opinion – it wasn’t,” answered Dr. Rosmarin.
On Wednesday, the defense will call Dr. Kapoor, who determined Bourgoin was insane at the time of the crash, as well as Bourgoin’s former coworkers at Lake Champlain Chocolates.