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The Fell Case From the Beginning - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

The Fell Case From the Beginning

Burlington, Vermont - June 16, 2006

The case began over five years ago in November of 2000. 53-year-old Terri King of North Clarendon was abducted on her way to work at the Price Chopper in Rutland. Donald Fell and Robert Lee needed a car, and King was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Just hours before, the two had murdered Fell's mother, Deborah, and her friend Charles Conway inside a Rutland home. According to court papers the group was arguing over the volume of the radio.

They then took Terri King to Dover, New York. Fell and Lee beat her to death as she prayed for her life. The two young men were captured four days later in Arkansas, and confessed to all three murders.

The killers were returned to Vermont, where they faced federal charges of kidnapping and murder.

But Lee would never be punished for the crime because he hanged himself in prison.

In January 2002 an historic decision. Prosecutors announced they would seek the death penalty against Fell. It would be the first such case in Vermont since the 1950s.

Because Terri King was taken across state lines and then killed, Fell was eligible for the death penalty under federal law, even though Vermont has no death penalty itself.

"This is our September 11th. This is our terror attack on our family. To me Donald Fell doesn't deserve to live. He deserves to die, just like any criminal who takes an innocent human life," said Barbara Tuttle, Terri King's sister.

Later that year, a Vermont judge issued a ruling that would delay the case for years. Judge William Sessions declared the federal death penalty unconstitutional.

It wasn't until a year and a half later in March of 2004, that a federal appeals court overruled Judge Sessions, allowing the case to move forward.

Fell's death penalty trial finally got underway last June, four years after the triple homicide. Following a month long trial, a jury found Donald Fell guilty for the kidnapping and murder of Terri King. A day later a vote for him to die.

"Judge sessions must by law impose the death penalty now that the jury has recommended it except in a very narrow circumstance where he finds there was some misconduct on the part of the prosecution extremely, extremely unlikely in this case," said legal analyst Cheryl Hanna from the Vermont Law School.

Friday he will learn where he is to be executed, but it wont come anytime soon. The case is far from over. A number of appeals will likely delay Fell's execution for years.

"When Donald Fell is six feet under and I know he is not going to the same place my mother is that is going to be our justice," said Karen Worchester, King's daughter.

And King's family will be one step closer to their justice Friday.

Matt Henson - Channel 3 News

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