State drops cases against 3 in Vermont who planned insanity defense

Local News

Prosecutors in Chittenden County have dropped two murder cases and an attempted murder case because they say they’re unlikely to successfully rebut the suspects claims that they were legally insane.

Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George said attorneys for the three suspects, all of whom will remain in the custody of the Department of Mental Health, were planning to mount insanity defenses at trial.

George said prosecutors have determined that in all three cases the suspects would present “substantial admissible evidence” of serious mental illness.

“Despite a retention of forensic psychiatrists who conducted thorough evaluations of the defendants, the state does not have sufficient evidence to rebut these insanity defenses,” George wrote in a news release.

The suspects in the three cases — Aita Gurung, Louis Fortier and Veronica Lewis — have long histories of mental illness and psychiatric hospitalizations.

Gurung was accused of killing his wife with a meat cleaver and seriously injuring his mother-in-law in October 2017. Also in 2017, Fortier was charged with murder in the stabbing death of Richard Medina. Both men were homeless at the time.

Lewis was accused of attempted murder in 2015 after allegedly shooting her 48-year-old gun instructor multiple times in Westford in 2015. The instructor was seriously injured.

Last month, a jury convicted Steven Bourgoin for killing five teenagers in a wrong-way crash on I-89. Bourgoin claimed he was insane at the time of the crash, but the jury found him guilty on five counts of second-degree murder.

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