Federal prosecutors will seek the death penalty against Michael Jacques, 43, of Randolph. Jacques is the man charged with the kidnapping, rape and murder of his niece, Brooke Bennett.
The decision came more than a week ago from United States Attorney General Eric Holder but was just announced Tuesday by Vermont's U.S. Attorney Tris Coffin.
In past interviews with WCAX News, Brooke Bennett's father said he wanted to see prosecutors seek the death penalty when Jacques goes to trial. Tuesday he got his wish.
Brooke Bennett was found dead last summer-- at just 12 years old. Before the Braintree girl's body was discovered, Vermont was gripped, hoping the search for her would have a happy ending. But when grief was the result, investigators targeted the girl's uncle: Michael Jacques, a convicted sex offender.
Federal prosecutors said Tuesday years of intimidation and abuse met criteria for capital punishment because of their cruelty and premeditation.
While Jacques has yet to be tried, people we spoke to in the town Bennett was last seen alive say it was the right decision.
"I think it's wrong," said Michelle Brown of Roxbury. "Anyone who does that deserves the death penalty."
"Her own uncle, I mean, that's terrible. Sure, I think he should die," said Robert Huffman of Randolph.
"I'm a good Christian. I believe firmly in God. But I believe if you take a life, especially the life of a child so innocent, then I'm a believer in the death penalty," said Amy Slocum of Randolph.
Again this is just a preliminary step. Jacques has not been found guilty and we don't even know when he will face trial.
There was a significant series of anti-death penalty demonstrations in 2005 when Donald Fell was facing capital punishment for killing Terry King of North Clarendon. Those opponents-- including several religious leaders-- said the death penalty is no deterrent, and human beings should not turn to vengeance. We may see similar demonstrations when Michael Jacques goes to trial.
The Donald Fell case did end in a conviction and he is on death row in Indiana. Vermont has not had an execution in over 50 years and outlawed the death penalty in 1964. But both Fell and Jacques are under federal jurisdiction.
Friday, April 18 2014 8:54 AM EDT2014-04-18 12:54:02 GMT
A sugaring season was cut short in Swanton overnight after a shed caught fire. Fire officials tell us they got the call around 1:30 a.m. Friday for the sugarhouse fire on Woods Hill Road. They say theMore >>
A sugaring season was cut short in Swanton overnight after a shed caught fire.More >>
Friday, April 18 2014 8:46 AM EDT2014-04-18 12:46:49 GMT
As the temperatures start to climb, it's your last weekend to ski in New Hampshire. The three remaining areas that are open -- Loon Mountain, Cannon Mountain, and Bretton Woods -- are planning to closeMore >>
As the temperatures start to climb, it's your last weekend to ski in New Hampshire.More >>
Friday, April 18 2014 8:45 AM EDT2014-04-18 12:45:18 GMT
This week, the first line of emergency responders are being recognized for their work. National Telecommunicators Week ends Saturday. It's a national week honoring the men and women who work around-the-clockMore >>
This week, the first line of emergency responders are being recognized for their work.More >>
Friday, April 18 2014 12:04 AM EDT2014-04-18 04:04:40 GMT
A Putney man was taken to the hospital after police say he was run over in a driveway. It happened this afternoon on Kimball Hill Road. Investigators say 63-year-old Eric Ladd was walking slipped and hitMore >>
A Putney man was taken to the hospital after police say he was run over in a driveway. It happened this afternoon on Kimball Hill Road.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 11:58 PM EDT2014-04-18 03:58:40 GMT
There's been a tragedy on the Burlington beltway Thursday night. Police confirm that a 24-year-old Winooski man was killed in a motorcycle crash that shutdown the beltway. The name has been releasedMore >>
Burlington Police confirm that a 24-year-old Winooski man was killed in a motorcycle crash that shutdown the beltline.More >>
Friday, April 18 2014 12:00 AM EDT2014-04-18 04:00:59 GMT
Police are searching for clues after a homemade bottle bomb was found at a park in Keene New Hampshire. On Wednesday workers were doing spring clean-up at Wheelock park when they found a 55-gallon drumMore >>
Police are searching for clues after a homemade bottle bomb was found at a park in Keene New Hampshire.More >>
Friday, April 18 2014 9:31 AM EDT2014-04-18 13:31:49 GMT
Debate is brewing over the cost of Greek life, and some lawmakers believe it's time for sororities and fraternities at the University of Vermont to pay up. Hospitals, the American Red Cross, Churches andMore >>
Debate is brewing over the cost of Greek life, and some lawmakers believe it's time for sororities and fraternities at the University of Vermont to pay up.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 11:08 PM EDT2014-04-18 03:08:04 GMT
Police say two people found dead at a home in Stowe are believed to have died in a murder-suicide. Police are still not releasing their names or the cause of death, but they say the victims are adults. StoweMore >>
A Stowe couple is dead after what police say was a murder-suicide. The news came as a shock to neighbors who say they never noticed any red flags. More >>