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US judge orders new trial for Donald Fell - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

US judge orders new trial for Donald Fell

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Donald Fell Donald Fell
Terry King Terry King
MONTPELIER, Vt. -

He's accused of killing three people in cold blood 14 years ago. Donald Fell is on death row awaiting execution. Now, a federal judge says the 34-year-old is entitled to a new trial citing juror misconduct in Fell's capital murder case.

"We're just looking forward to a fair and impartial trial and we hope everything turns out alright," said Alexander Bunin, defense attorney in an interview with WCAX in 2005.

On Nov. 26, 2000, then-20-year-old Fell and his accomplice, Robert Lee, were accused of killing Fell's mother, Debra, and her friend, Charles Conway, at her Rutland home after an argument over the radio volume.

From there, investigators say the two men fled to the nearby Price Chopper where they carjacked and abducted a supermarket employee on her way into work. Police say the men drove Terry King, 53, to New York, where they beat the North Clarendon grandmother to death as she prayed for her life. Fell and Lee were arrested four days later in Arkansas, allegedly confessed to the three murders and were returned to Vermont to face federal kidnapping and murder charges.

"This is our terror attack on our family," King's sister Barbara Tuttle told WCAX in 2002. "To me, Donald Fell doesn't deserve to live. He deserves to die just like any criminal who takes an innocent human life."

Lee hanged himself in prison. Fell was sentenced to death in 2005.

In 2006, King's daughter Karen Worchester told WCAX: "When Donald Fell is six-feet under-- and I know he is not going to the same place my mother is-- that is going to be our justice."

Justice that's been challenged.

Last summer, Fell's lawyers argued the jury that found him guilty was tainted because one of the jurors allegedly investigated the case on his own, traveling to Rutland to view the crime scene and telling other jurors of his observations, lying about his actions and supposedly coercing another juror into changing her vote. Two other jurors are accused of lying about their pasts during jury selection.

Thursday, Judge William Sessions, a longtime opponent of the death penalty, overturned Fell's 2005 conviction. Judge Sessions said the conduct violates the fundamental integrity of Fell's trial.

WCAX reached out to Vermont's federal prosecutor for comment. Tris Coffin says his office is still reviewing the case and would not comment on the news of a new trial.

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