A Lamoille County man is guilty of murder. A jury spent almost 13 hours deliberating Dennis Tribble's fate before reaching that verdict late Saturday afternoon.
"I'm not surprised at all -- we felt this was the most likely outcome," said Joel Page, the prosecutor in the case.
Jurors deliberated six hours Friday night and another seven hours Saturday before returning with a verdict. "I don't recall a deliberation ever taking this long. Usually when they're out that long it ends up as a hung jury," Page said.
The jury found Tribble guilty of second degree murder for gunning down his neighbor Mike Borello eight and-a-half years ago -- a crime that carries a sentence of 20 years to life in prison. Borello's widow sat in silence as the verdict was read. Tribble showed little to no emotion. "Mike would not feel happy on a day like today. He was a real peace loving man, but yes, I do feel closure," said Sonya Fee-Doran, a friend of Borello.
Tribble never denied murdering Borello, but his lawyer argued that he shot him in self defense because he thought Borello was going to kill him. Jurors didn't buy it. Neither did the prosecution, which emphasized the fact that Borello was unarmed and that Tribble chased him, firing five shots -- the last from less than seven feet away. "We're very pleased with the outcome," Page said. "This case had a lot of unusual aspects to it, mental illness aspects, self defense aspects, really anything could have happened."
This is the second time Tribble's been convicted for the crime. A jury found him guilty in 2002, but that conviction was thrown out by the Vermont Supreme Court. Tribble fired three sets of lawyers then, and didn't even show up for the trial. Supreme Court justices argued Tribble didn't mount an adequate defense, violating constitutional standards.
Mike Borello's family and friends say they are happy to finally close the book on the case and are looking forward to honoring the man who they say loved everyone. "He was the greatest, the kind of guy you only meet a couple times in your lifetime," Fee-Doran said.
The case moved to a rare sentencing phase after the verdict -- a phase that's only relevant for murder cases that occurred in the early part of the decade. Jurors have to weigh so-called aggravating and mitigating factors in helping decide Tribble's potential sentence. Late Saturday night the jury decided that Tribble's incarceration should range from 20 years to life without parole. A judge will now decide his fate. No sentencing date has been set.