The science of self-defense - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

The science of self-defense

Kyle Bolaski Kyle Bolaski

White River Junction, Vermont - May 18, 2011

According to court documents, Kyle Bolaski shot Vinnie Tamburello in broad daylight on a ballfield in Chester and then immediately started shouting that the shooting was in self-defense, a position he maintains almost three years later.

The trial, which is now halfway into its second week, is highlighting the legal definition of self-defense.

"Self-defense requires that the defendant had a reasonable belief that his life was in danger or that he was about to be seriously injured," said Michele Martinez Campbell, a professor at the Vermont Law School.

According to court documents, Tamburello showed up at the field with an ax, continuing an altercation from a day earlier. Tamburello rushed the group with the ax and began striking Bolaski's truck repeatedly. Police say Bolaski then pulled a gun from the truck and shot Tamburello in the leg.

"If the facts clearly show that the victim was disabled, there is no more imminent threat and then self-defense doesn't apply," Martinez Campbell said.

But what happened after that first shooting is not clear. In fact, a witness called Wednesday seemed to contradict his own testimony as to who was pursuing after the first shot to the leg, first saying it was Tamburello.

"I saw the man with the ax still coming forward, coming still in a forward direction to the man with the gun," witness Keith Destromp said.

Then during cross examination Destromp said it was Bolaski following Tamburello.

"(The defendant) was going in a forward motion, yes sir," Destromp said.

It was then that police say Bolaski fired the fatal blow, hitting the victim in the back.

"There is nothing in the law that says just because the victim was shot in the back that means that it can't be self-defense," Martinez Campbell said. "But you know you would have to have some facts that really establish why that victim was shot in the back and yet the defendant still believed that his own life was in danger."

Martinez Campbell says ultimately it will be up to a jury to decide. But she says there could be a third option which is a lesser charge of manslaughter.

"And that would occur if the jury found that the self-defense claim was not established but the defendant was provoked by the victim attacking him in such a way that an ordinary person would have lost their self control," she explained.

A manslaughter charge was already filed in the past after a grand jury found that there was not enough evidence for murder. However, the second-degree murder charge was pursued by a different prosecutor at the urging of the Tamburello family.

Defense lawyer Kevin Griffin would not comment Wednesday on whether Bolaski will take the stand. However, Martinez Campbell says that Bolaski's side of the story would be the most powerful evidence the jury could hear. Of course, he is not in any way required to take the stand. The burden of proof falls solely on the prosecution.

Adam Sullivan - WCAX News

Related Stories:

Murder or self-defense focus of Upper Valley trial

Opening arguments in Bolaski murder trial

Self-defense or second-degree murder?

Bolaski Pleads Not Guilty to Manslaughter

Springfield Man Charged with Manslaughter

Murder Charges Dropped, Shooting Was Self-Defense

Autopsy Raises Questions About Self-Defense Claim

When is Homicide Self-Defense?

Was Chester Shooting Self-Defense?

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Rutland pharmacist accused of stealing meds

    Rutland pharmacist accused of stealing meds

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:43 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:43:47 GMT
    In Rutland a pharmacist is accused of stealing meds from his employer. 32-year-old Brandon Cigana worked at the Walgreens Pharmacy on Woodstock Avenue. Prosecutors say he used his position there to access the pharmacy's inventory stealing regulated drugs like benzodiazepines, Hydrocodone and Suboxone for himself without a prescription. The Whitehall, New York man faces up to two years behind bars.More >>
    In Rutland a pharmacist is accused of stealing meds from his employer. 32-year-old Brandon Cigana worked at the Walgreens Pharmacy on Woodstock Avenue. Prosecutors say he used his position there to access the pharmacy's inventory stealing regulated drugs like benzodiazepines, Hydrocodone and Suboxone for himself without a prescription. The Whitehall, New York man faces up to two years behind bars.More >>
  • Drug bust in Burlington's Old North End

    Drug bust in Burlington's Old North End

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:44 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:44:04 GMT
    Police made a drug bust Wednesday night in Burlington's Old North End. Police and the U.S. Marshal's raided this home on Cedar Street around 8 o'clock. They say they seized heroin and cocaine. Six people were inside when authorities went in. But they're not saying how many arrests were made. The raid was part of an ongoing drug investigation.More >>
    Police made a drug bust Wednesday night in Burlington's Old North End. Police and the U.S. Marshal's raided this home on Cedar Street around 8 o'clock. They say they seized heroin and cocaine. Six people were inside when authorities went in. But they're not saying how many arrests were made. The raid was part of an ongoing drug investigation.More >>
  • Fire damages Lyndonville tree farm

    Fire damages Lyndonville tree farm

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:44 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:44:21 GMT
    Fire has damaged ten acres of a Lyndonville tree farm. Eight department were called in to battle the blaze. And it took four hours to get the flames under control. Fire officals say a discarded cigarette combined with dry conditions are to blame. One firefighter suffered from minor smoke inhalation.More >>
    Fire has damaged ten acres of a Lyndonville tree farm. Eight department were called in to battle the blaze. And it took four hours to get the flames under control. Fire officals say a discarded cigarette combined with dry conditions are to blame. One firefighter suffered from minor smoke inhalation.More >>
  • A warning for bird watchers: Give eagles space

    A warning for bird watchers: Give eagles space

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:44 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:44:36 GMT
    Bird watchers are being reminded to give nesting bald eagles plenty of space. The Vermont Fish Wildlife Department is urging anyone who sees a nesting eagle not to get closer than 300 feet. Activity too close to their nest can result in them abandoning their young. Harassing a bald eagle is illegal and a violation of the state endangered species statute.More >>
    Bird watchers are being reminded to give nesting bald eagles plenty of space. The Vermont Fish Wildlife Department is urging anyone who sees a nesting eagle not to get closer than 300 feet. Activity too close to their nest can result in them abandoning their young. Harassing a bald eagle is illegal and a violation of the state endangered species statute.More >>
  • Gun fired into New Haven home

    Gun fired into New Haven home

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:44 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:44:48 GMT
    Police are searching for who fired a gun into a home in New Haven. It happened late Tuesday night at 2420 Munger Street. Police say a bullet passed through a window of the home. Luckily no one was hurt. Investigators say a stop sign at the intersection of Munger Street and Cobble Road had also been shot. Anyone with information should call state police.More >>
    Police are searching for who fired a gun into a home in New Haven. It happened late Tuesday night at 2420 Munger Street. Police say a bullet passed through a window of the home. Luckily no one was hurt. Investigators say a stop sign at the intersection of Munger Street and Cobble Road had also been shot. Anyone with information should call state police.More >>
  • What triggered a shooting inside the Bennington police station?

    What triggered a shooting inside the Bennington police station?

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 6:57 PM EDT2014-04-23 22:57:35 GMT
    A Bennington man is in stable condition after being shot by an officer inside the Bennington Police Department. Investigators say Gregory Filo had a knife and was behaving erratically.More >>
    A Bennington man is in stable condition after being shot by an officer inside the Bennington Police Department. Investigators say Gregory Filo had a knife and was behaving erratically.More >>
  • Former Fortune 500 exec indicted in fatal NH crash

    Former Fortune 500 exec indicted in fatal NH crash

    A New Hampshire grand jury has indicted a former Fortune 500 executive on second-degree murder charges in connection with a crash that killed a Vermont couple in December.More >>
    A New Hampshire grand jury has indicted a former Fortune 500 executive on second-degree murder charges in a crash that killed a Vermont couple in December.More >>
  • Convicted Vt. embezzler charged with stealing from employer

    Convicted Vt. embezzler charged with stealing from employer

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 7:24 PM EDT2014-04-23 23:24:36 GMT
    Nearly two decades after her first conviction, a white-collar criminal returns to court once again charged with stealing from her employer. More >>
    Nearly two decades after her first conviction, a white-collar criminal returns to court once again charged with stealing from her employer.
    More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.