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Man accused in deadly crash now faces murder charges - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Man accused in deadly crash now faces murder charges

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Alex Spanos Alex Spanos
Carly Ferro Carly Ferro
RUTLAND, Vt. -

Business is starting to return to normal at Rutland Discount Food on Cleveland Avenue in Rutland.

"A lot of people for a longtime couldn't even come in," said Pam Sokol of Rutland Discount Food. It's been four months since 17-year-old Carly Ferro was killed as she left work. The Rutland High School senior was getting into her father's car when an out of control vehicle struck it, pinning her between her father's car and the building.

"It was useless, a very useless act. It should have never have been," Sokol said.

Police say the accident happened because Alex Spanos, 24, was huffing chemicals as he was joyriding around the city. He was originally charged with manslaughter, but now prosecutors are calling it second-degree murder. Spanos pleaded not guilty in court.

"We amended the charges as new evidence developed," Rutland County Prosecutor Marc Brierre said.

According to new court papers, one of the two passengers in Spanos' car said Spanos was so high from huffing, that he accidentally turned left onto Cleveland Avenue instead of turning right to go to his brother's house as planned. That passenger went on to tell police that once they were on Cleveland Avenue, Spanos passed out at the wheel with the huffing container in his hand and pushed the gas pedal to the floor as it veered toward the discount food center.

"I certainly think we'll see more prosecutors looking very carefully at the homicide statutes to see, for example, whether they can prove second-degree murder," former prosecutor Jerry O'Neill said.

Spanos is the second person in Vermont to be charged with murder for a fatal crash. Last year, Timothy Dowd was convicted of second-degree murder for a fatal drunk driving crash in Burlington. O'Neill says the Dowd case set a new precedent in the state, but proving crashes like this are murder will still be a difficult task.

"Any case where you are taking a step up like this, it's always more difficult. This isn't what the statute was designed for specifically. It may fit, but certainly you are going to have to show the intent. Intent is the significant piece that makes the distinctions as it relates to degrees of homicide," O'Neill said.

Spanos was originally looking at a potential sentence of up to 15 years in prison. A murder conviction could mean Spanos spends 20 years to life in prison. Former co-workers say it is "closer to justice."

Sokol said, "It won't bring her back; she is gone."

Related Stories:

Huffing linked to other Vt. fatalities

Driver denies charges in deadly Rutland crash

Vigil for Rutland accident victim

Alcohol, drugs suspected in deadly Rutland crash

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