Victim's family reacts to judge ordering new trial for Donald Fe - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Victim's family reacts to judge ordering new trial for Donald Fell

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RUTLAND, Vt. - Their mother was murdered 14 years ago as she begged for her life to be spared for the sake of the grandchildren her family says she lived for. Now, Terry King's daughters and her sister Charlotte Tuttle blame Judge William Sessions for ordering a new trial for Donald Fell, who was convicted of murdering the Rutland grandmother.

Terry King's family is very close. They finish each other's sentences and they did not want to be interviewed unless they could all be together at the same time. They tell WCAX Terry is still the missing piece 14 years after her murder, and anything less than death for the man who allegedly took her away from them is unacceptable.

Back in 2005, Terry King's family didn't want to miss a moment of the capital murder trial for Donald Fell.

"We sat through every minute of this trial, all through the jury selections, through the court, through everything and throughout this whole thing," Tuttle said.

Tuttle and King's daughters, Lori Hibbard and Karen Worcester, tell us it was painful to hear the murder recounted in detail. Prosecutors say Fell and his friend Robert Lee carjacked King outside a Rutland Price Chopper when she was arriving for her 4 a.m. shift.

But now that a judge has ordered a new trial for Fell, the family says they will do it all over again.

"The only thing that we want is death for Donald Fell and we will not have any peace until that happens," said Worcester.

Tuttle was called by a victim's advocate July 24 to alert the family that Judge William Sessions ordered a new trial for Fell due to juror misconduct. Lee died while incarcerated, allegedly by taking his own life. Sessions cited jury misconduct after juror 143 allegedly engaged in his own investigation of the case and shared his findings with other jurors.

"We're disappointed. You know, this has been a long 14 years for our family and we kind of knew in the beginning that this was going to be the outcome, but it doesn't make it any easier," said Worcester.

King's family says they are angry, but not at juror 143.

"Judge Sessions should have never sat on this case and I blame him for this," said Tuttle.

Sessions had earlier ruled the death penalty unconstitutional. That ruling was overturned at the court of appeals. The family disagrees with Sessions' giving permission for the defense attorneys to interview jurors nine years later.

"Because Judge Sessions didn't want the death penalty that he found open opportunities to give the defense lawyers chances to overturn the death penalty and I think that... I just think it's totally unfair," said Hibbard.

Reporter Elizabeth Keatinge: Just so I'm understanding correctly, your feeling is more that this is Judge Sessions' agenda?

All: Yes.

Worcester: Absolutely.

Tuttle: Unanimously, yes.

We reached out to Judge Sessions' office who told us, "He is out of the office... he is not available for comment."

The family also questions the motives of those who spoke to prosecutors-- former girlfriends of juror 143 who claim they accompanied him on his trip to Rutland to make his own investigation.

"How do we know that she's not lying," said Tuttle.

We spoke to one of the former girlfriends. She declined to discuss the case but said she was happy she was not involved with that person anymore.

A legal expert who is not involved in this case said Sessions did what he had to do.

"He does not want to do it, you can see it in his writing, he references specifically the family and the difficulty this is, he feels. And I agree with him, he didn’t have a choice; the juror's conduct is so outrageous," said Jerry O'Neill, a former U.S. attorney.

One can see Hibbard, Worcester and Tuttle are a very close family. They say they miss King every day.

"It never, ever goes away. I wake up at 4 in the morning, I hear my sister's voice. I go to sleep at night, she's probably the last person I think about," said Tuttle.

They say if a plea deal were offered that is not justice for King.

"If we have to do it over again, we will. We're not changing our minds on what we want. We want to see Donald sentenced to death," said HIbbard.

King's daughters and sister find this time of year particularly painful. It falls near King's birthday and Lori Hibbard just found out she will be a grandmother, which would have made King a great-grandmother this year.

WCAX reached out to Judge Sessions' office and attorney Tris Coffin and both declined our request for an interview or comment.

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