"The plea agreement is very, very favorable to you. I hope you're worthy," said Vt. District Court Judge Linda Levitt.
Even the judge acknowledged the surprising leniency of the sentence prosecutors offered Jeffrey Chamberlin for knifing a police officer.
It happened last fall when Chamberlin was dumped by his longtime girlfriend. He followed her from her job to a house in Milton hoping she'd take him back. He said he didn't know she had moved into the home with her new romantic interest, Winooski Police Officer Jason Nokes. But he found out when he said Nokes-- who was off-duty-- angrily confronted him, and Chamberlin claimed he was forced to defend himself with a knife.
"Mr. Nokes came out yelling. There was an altercation at my car. He got me through my window. I swung the knife once, he was injured and he released me. I drove off and I called 911," said Chamberlin.
Nokes needed delicate surgery to repair sliced tendons on two fingers but has now returned to full-time duty.
Chamberlin had facial injuries consistent with having been punched.
"What happened that night we will never know, " said Chittenden County Prosecutor T.J. Donovan.
Donovan said eyewitness accounts contradicted officer Nokes' claim that the knife attack was unprovoked. So Donovan was compelled to offer Chamberlin a plea deal calling for no prison and no criminal record if Chamberlain stays clean for two years.
"And if we don't have facts and we can't prove our case and there's a legitimate self-defense claim, we're not gonna go forward and lose outright. We'd rather go forward and get something," said Donovan.
Chamberlin declined comment as he left the courthouse. But his lawyer told us that despite the apparent strength of the self-defense claim, it was just too risky to go to jury trial because the jurors could conclude that Chamberlin's use of the knife was not reasonable.
Friday, December 6 2013 6:31 AM EST2013-12-06 11:31:48 GMT
A welfare check turned into a dangerous situation in Brattleboro. Officers were called to Valley Street Thursday to check on a 39-year-old woman. While on the scene, police say the woman grabbed a largeMore >>
A welfare check turned into a dangerous situation in Brattleboro.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 6:28 AM EST2013-12-06 11:28:49 GMT
A plea deal may be in the works for the man who police say torched a Burlington bell tower. The College Street Congregational Church was badly damaged back in October by a fire investigators say was arson.More >>
A plea deal may be in the works for the man who police say torched a Burlington bell tower.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 6:22 AM EST2013-12-06 11:22:45 GMT
A Vermont family is homeless after fire destroyed their Concord home. Officials say the fire broke out Thursday afternoon on Ladd Road just before 4 p.m. By the time fire crews arrived on the scene theMore >>
A Vermont family is homeless after fire destroyed their Concord home. More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 6:14 AM EST2013-12-06 11:14:08 GMT
Dozens of Vermont nurses are headed to the Philippines to help victims of a deadly storm. Last month, a typhoon tore across the eastern Philippines, killing thousands and displacing hundreds of thousands. TheMore >>
Dozens of Vermont nurses are headed to the Philippines to help victims of a deadly storm.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 6:09 AM EST2013-12-06 11:09:59 GMT
For years, Vermonters have described their favorite maple syrup with a letter grade or as Vermont Fancy. But beginning next year, those grading rules will change. Producers will begin labeling VermontMore >>
New regulations coming next year will change the way you shop for syrup in Vermont.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 6:03 AM EST2013-12-06 11:03:14 GMT
Prosecutors are calling for stiffer probation penalties for a Vermont publisher who swindled retirees out of their life savings. Last April Peter Campbell-Copp pleaded guilty to more than a dozen felonyMore >>
Prosecutors are calling for stiffer probation penalties for a Vermont publisher who swindled retirees out of their life savings.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 5:56 AM EST2013-12-06 10:56:32 GMT
There are new developments in the search for a missing New Hampshire teen. The FBI now confirms that the mother of 15-year-old Abigail Hernandez has had contact with her daughter since she vanished twoMore >>
There are new developments in the search for a missing New Hampshire teen. More >>
Thursday, December 5 2013 6:59 PM EST2013-12-05 23:59:01 GMT
Hundreds of Vermonters could lose unemployment benefits early if Congress doesn't act. Congress expanded packages after the 2008 economic crash but the offer is set to expire. Regular unemployment benefits,More >>
Hundreds of Vermonters could lose their unemployment benefits early if Congress doesn't act. Regular unemployment benefits will not be affected. But additional emergency benefits will expire before the end of December.More >>