Nearly eight years after Pat O’Hagan, 78, was murdered and left in the woods in the Northeast Kingdom, all three men involved in her killing have been sentenced.
Her five children, who have traveled to Vermont from throughout New England and Michigan for hearings and court dates through the years, were hoping for trials.
What they got were plea deals.
Keith Baird, 37, was sentenced to 15-30 years in prison Tuesday for his role in the murder at O’Hagan’s Sheffield, Vt. home in 2010.
The sentence for kidnapping and burglary will be served concurrently to the sentence he’s already serving for unrelated crimes.
He pleaded no contest to the charges in April in a deal that included the state dropping a first-degree murder charge.
The murder charge against Baird was initially dismissed by Judge Michael Kupersmith in 2016 after a motion by defense but the Vermont Supreme Court reinstated it last year.
In court Tuesday, Judge Kupersmith said he agreed with the high court’s decision.
“Your conduct, your acts on that night were so reckless that you certainly deserved to be charged with a murder and if this had gone to trial, a jury would have been justified in convicting you,” he said to Baird.
Prosecutors say Baird, Richard Fletcher and a third man, Michael Norrie, went into Pat O’Hagan’s home with the intention of robbing her in September 2010. Once inside, prosecutors say Norrie shot O’Hagan.
Norrie is serving a 23 year sentence after pleading guilty to kidnapping, burglary and first degree murder.
Police say all three worked together to cover up the crime. O’Hagan’s body was found in Wheelock several weeks after she was killed.
Also on Tuesday, Fletcher, who pleaded guilty to kidnapping and burglary and agreed to testify against Baird if the case went to trial, received a 15-year sentence.
The sentence will be served concurrently with an unrelated federal sentence.
“2.5 years for Baird and basically zero for Fletcher, related to our case directly. Doesn’t feel great. It’s been a long 8 years,” said Matt O’Hagan to reporters after the sentencing. “We were hoping it would go to trial, especially on Baird…If my mom was here, she’d want us to make sure they didn’t make out so they couldn’t do it to anyone else.”
Caledonia County State’s Attorney Lisa Warren wrote in a statement:
“I am pleased with the conclusion of the defendants cases involving the burglary, kidnapping, and murder of Mary Pat O’Hagan. The three defendants responsible for these horrific crimes against Mrs. O’Hagan are in jail and are being held accountable. It is a bittersweet resolution, however. The O’Hagan family lost their loving mother, grandmother, and sister. The Sheffield community lost a dedicated community member. No sentence under Vermont law could make the family or community whole again. Yet this nearly eight year old case is now finalized. It is not a great resolution for the O’Hagan family. However, after careful examination of all the circumstances surrounding these three cases, Justice has been delivered within the bounds of the law. There is no perfect justice for these crimes.”
The Caledonia County State’s Attorney’s office chose to go forward with the plea deals against the family’s wishes to ensure some kind of justice.
While Baird did not address the O’Hagan family, Fletcher apologized.
“I apologize to the O’Hagan family for taking a family member of theirs and I’m sorry that I did so…there’s no amount of time to change what I’ve done,” he said.
O’Hagan’s daughter, Maureen O’Hagan and son, Shawn O’Hagan, provided victim statements.
“You have made it clear that you have no remorse for the crimes that you carried out. Not only did you change our lives but the one life you took also was helping a whole town,” said Shawn O’Hagan to Baird.
“I am standing up here today not just for our family but for the many lives she made a little brighter.”
O’Hagan’s daughter, Maureen, described her mother was “busy” after she and her husband retired in Sheffield.
“She quickly became a part of the community through her volunteer work, her church and her new friends. She took up kayaking, raw cooking, tried her hand at fiddle playing and many other activities,” she said.
“Her love of the community and giving. She volunteered on a lot of groups and she helped a lot of people. She looked for nothing in return and I think that’s a legacy we all could live by, give back,” said Shawn O’Hagan.
Judge Kupersmith said O’Hagan’s murder was a “miserable, cowardly crime.”