Daniel Whalon sobbed as he entered a Burlington courtroom Monday. He's charged with fatally stabbing his secret lover, Ralph Bell, in the neck and chest. The 25-year-old Burlington man did not enter a plea Monday. Instead, the judge ordered him to go to the Vermont State Hospital for an in-patient mental health evaluation.
"This is a pretty standard practice," Chittenden County Prosecutor T.J. Donovan said. "Obviously in this case we want to make sure that all the rules are followed, that in fact Mr. Whalon is competent to face the charges that the state has alleged against him."
Whalon will continue to be held without bail. The state says the evaluation will determine if he's able to understand the charges and comprehend the advice given to him by his lawyers. He is facing a second-degree murder charge-- a crime that carries a sentence of 20 years to life in prison. This delay was tough for the victim's grieving family, but the state says it's a critical safeguard of the legal system.
"It wouldn't change anything with the state's charges. It certainly is going to determine which road we travel down in the criminal process," Donovan said.
If Whalon is found to be competent he will be tried for second-degree murder. If not, the prosecution says it would have to adjust its strategy. But the state's attorney did not say if that means Whalon would avoid jail time. The competency results are expected to take a few weeks.
A charge of murder in the second degree means there was not premeditation or planning on Whalon's part. But the police investigation continues. And if they find evidence pointing to a planned murder, that charge could be upgraded to first degree or additional charges could be filed.
Saturday, December 7 2013 8:32 AM EST2013-12-07 13:32:27 GMT
If you're lucky, you may have seen a snowy owl in Vermont. Researchers say the birds are traveling even farther south than usual -- some even as far south as North Carolina. We spotted one Friday afternoonMore >>
Researchers say snowy owls are traveling even farther south than usual, and that means more sightings here in Vermont.More >>
Saturday, December 7 2013 7:51 AM EST2013-12-07 12:51:22 GMT
South Burlington police say a shoplifter tried to hide her drugs by swallowing them at the police station. Police arrested Diana Matt Friday night at the University Mall Kohl's for allegedly stealingMore >>
South Burlington police say a shoplifter tried to hide her drugs by swallowing them at the police station.More >>
Saturday, December 7 2013 7:49 AM EST2013-12-07 12:49:56 GMT
Police in Brattleboro are looking for the driver of a car that hit and killed a pedestrian Friday night. Police say, just after 7 p.m., the car struck the man at Western Avenue and Union Street and thenMore >>
Police in Brattleboro are looking for the driver of a car that hit and killed a pedestrian Friday night.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 11:16 PM EST2013-12-07 04:16:55 GMT
A Connecticut man is charged with DUI after police say he admitted to overdosing on prescribed Ritalin when he was pulled over. The incident happened on Route 105 in Berkshire late Friday afternoon. AuthoritiesMore >>
A Connecticut man is charged with DUI after police say he admitted to overdosing on prescribed Ritalin when he was pulled over.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 10:03 PM EST2013-12-07 03:03:22 GMT
In Dorset, a car crashed into a bank and there was no drive-through lane.The car jumped the curb in front of the Berkshire Bank Friday morning, taking out a railing and getting hung up on the front steps.More >>
In Dorset, a car crashed into a bank -- and there was no drive-through lane. More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 10:01 PM EST2013-12-07 03:01:17 GMT
The longtime bookkeeper at Cold Hollow Cider Mill is expected to plead guilty to embezzling from the business and a local youth hockey program.Cold Hollow in Waterbury is one of Vermont's top tourist attractions.More >>
The longtime bookkeeper at Cold Hollow Cider Mill is expected to plead guilty to embezzling from the business and a local youth hockey program.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 10:00 PM EST2013-12-07 03:00:14 GMT
Police in Burlington say they've caught an armed robber.Investigators arrested Tyran Sprauve, 19, Friday afternoon for assault and robbery. Police say last month he and two other men broke into a homeMore >>
Police in Burlington say they've caught an armed robber.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 9:59 PM EST2013-12-07 02:59:17 GMT
A Claremont, New Hampshire couple is behind bars, charged with sexually assaulting two children under the age of five.Police say 25-year-old Kevin Blood and his 25-year-old wife, Ashley, were arrestedMore >>
A Claremont, New Hampshire couple is behind bars, charged with sexually assaulting two children under the age of five.More >>