Burlington man charged in deadly beating at birthday party
RUTLAND, Vt. -
Lori Bell refused to sit during the arraignment of her husband's accused killer, Joseph Bolduc, 25.
"I wanted him to see what he did," Bell said. "He ripped my heart out."
Late Friday night, 10 people had gathered at Todd Huestis' property on Sand Road in Ferrisburgh to celebrate his wife's birthday with a bonfire in the backyard. But the quiet evening was turned upside down just before midnight.
"It was a crazy scene and this man should have never been there," Todd Huestis said.
That man is Bolduc. He reportedly showed up in a drunken rage looking for his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend, who was not even a guest at the gathering. Huestis says he confronted Bolduc in the driveway. That's when a fight broke out.
"He just came at me. He was wild, I mean wild, wild, like ready to go," Huestis said.
When guest Conrad Bell, 40, went to check on the fight, Bolduc allegedly hit him in the neck with a tire iron two or three times. Bell was pronounced dead at the hospital.
"I hate to say it-- he saved my life. Why I didn't get hit in the head with a weapon is beyond me," Huestis said.
"There's two sides to every story," said Naomi Manning, a friend of Bolduc. "There were reasons for him going there. He was provoked."
During the arraignment, Bolduc's lawyer said he was working on a self-defense claim. His friends said Bolduc was lured to the party with a phone call, though no one would disclose any more details. The court affidavit makes no mention of a phone call that evening. But the affidavit does say that Conrad Bell's wife told police her husband received a call about a week ago and Bolduc threatened to kill him. Bell never disclosed why and the relationship between the two men is not clear.
"My kids loved playing with him. My daughter took his hat that said redneck and would run around and play with him," Manning said. "A guy like that doesn't hurt people on purpose."
In the meantime, Huestis is the mourning the loss of his fishing buddy, who also loved to hunt and spend time around bonfires.
"It was our happy place and it will never be the same," Huestis said.
"At 40 years old I don't have a husband and his daughters don't have their father and I hope he is proud of what he did," Lori Bell said.
Bolduc is facing a long list of charges. He is also accused of drunk driving, assault on a police officer for allegedly punching a trooper in the face as he tried to arrest him, and Bolduc is accused of trying to grab a trooper's gun during processing at the barracks. Bolduc reportedly told troopers he never remembers being in a fight.
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