Family and friends of Art and Peggy Moran watched as Alexis Gabree, 27, pleaded not guilty to two counts of gross negligent operation with death resulting for allegedly killing the beloved couple in a car crash last August.
"We're all having a very hard time with it," said Thomas Moran, the victims' son.
The elderly couple was killed in a crash on Route 105 in North Troy just minutes after they left Sunday morning mass. Police say Alexis Gabree was speeding and her license had been revoked for failing to pay traffic fines when she crossed the centerline and hit the couple head on.
"The speed was a huge factor, 17 mph over the limit over the brow of a hill is significant. Also, she was operating without a license and the ingestion of drugs played into the picture," Orleans County Assistant State's Attorney James Lillicrap said.
According to prosecutors, at the time of the accident, Gabree was headed to the state prison in Newport to visit her boyfriend. And her boyfriend had raised concerns before the crash about her ability to drive because she started abusing pills again. And court documents show Gabree admitted smoking marijuana the night before the deadly collision.
"We have a toxicology report of 11 different drugs in her bloodstream," Lillicrap said.
"These weren't two old people," Thomas Moran said. "They enjoyed life."
The victims' family calls the deaths needless and obscene. The Morans were devoted to each other, married for more than 50 years. They made an impact on their communities, first in Burlington and then in the Northeast Kingdom, where they ran the Jay Country Store.
"Issues were important to them," their son said.
They were champions for people with mental health needs and faithful to their local church.
"It's hard on a lot of people, my parent's death," Moran said. "It wasn't just the family who experienced, it was a lot of the community."
If convicted, Gabree faces up to 30 years in prison.
Prosecutors say Gabree was under the influence of drugs, but she is not charged with DUI. Prosecutors say that's because due to her years of prescription pill abuse, Gabree's system had built up a strong tolerance, and it's unclear how the abuse at the time of the crash had impacted her driving that day. And the penalty for DUI and gross negligent operation death resulting is the same-- a maximum of 15 years.
Sunday, May 19 2013 12:06 AM EDT2013-05-19 04:06:03 GMT
Vermont State Police have charged 22-year-old Adam Page of Newport for stealing the Newport City Elementary School bus, which has now been declared totaled. A stolen dog was also recovered in the busMore >>
State Police say he is also being charged with the theft of two other vehicles and a woman's dog.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 11:45 PM EDT2013-05-19 03:45:20 GMT
State police are looking for the person responsible for stealing a school bus and taking it for a joyride in northern Vermont. Troopers say the 2014-model bus belonging Newport City Elementary SchoolMore >>
Police say the school bus belonging to the Newport City Elementary School was taken for a joy ride Friday night.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 10:10 PM EDT2013-05-19 02:10:53 GMT
A fatal accident in Lyndon Saturday. It happened around 2:30 Saturday afternoon on Route 122. Police say 76-year-old Gerda Blaszczyk of St. Johnsbury swerved to avoid an animal. Her car travelled up anMore >>
Police say the driver swerved to avoid an animal.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 8:03 PM EDT2013-05-19 00:03:45 GMT
Senator Bernie Sanders is touring the state this weekend with a special guest. Sanders and the Danish Ambassabdor to the United States are hosting town hall meetings in Burlington, Brattleboro and Montpelier. TheMore >>
Sanders and the Danish Ambassabdor to the United States are hosting town hall meetings.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:56 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:56:03 GMT
Saturday marked a new beginning for Castleton State College students. "Were all gathered here, getting fired up, having a good time," explained Castleton graduate, David Carrier. The 500 graduates hadMore >>
It's graduation day for the class of 20-13 at Castleton State College. And just for the occasion, the college invited back an alumnus with a strong connection to the school.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:51 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:51:14 GMT
Young bikers were learning the rules of the road in South Burlington Saturday. Kids who brought their bikes to the Dorset St. Park received free checks for their brakes, chains, and tires. Helmets alsoMore >>
and much more... making sure kids are safe before they hit the roads this summer.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:49 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:49:26 GMT
On a sun-soaked Saturday, Karen Trayah and her dogs enjoyed the sights, sounds, and of course smells of a festival for fidos. "It's called Woofstock, however, this is our 1st year doing it here at theMore >>
Making sure our furry friends have a place to call home.More >>
Friday, May 17 2013 7:54 PM EDT2013-05-17 23:54:10 GMT
The door to room 118 at the Liberty Inn and Suites is gone-- busted by police during an early morning drug raid. They say tenant Julie Herron, 41, was selling heroin out her room. She was living thereMore >>
A South Burlington drug bust exposed new abuses of the state's homeless voucher program. A couple was arrested for selling heroin out of their motel room, and police say the state was footing the bill for their stay.More >>