3rd high-profile insanity defense trial expected by spring

Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 4:50 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - An accused Burlington killer was back in front of a judge Tuesday.

Louis Fortier is accused of stabbing Richard Medina just off of Church Street in 2017 in broad daylight. It’s the third of three high-profile, mental health-related cases dropped in 2019 by Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George, only to be picked up soon after by the Vermont Attorney General’s Office at the urging of Gov. Phil Scott.

Fortier was originally charged with murder but then found incompetent to stand trial. That was also the case in the attempted murder charges against Veronica Lewis and murder charges against Aita Gurung. At the time, George said she believed they were guilty but she couldn’t prove they were sane at the time of their crimes. Lewis last year accepted a plea deal and is behind bars. Gurung was found guilty of murder by a jury earlier this month.

Lawyers on both sides Tuesday continued to iron out motions in Fortier’s so they can set a trial date. His lawyer, David Sleigh, believes Fortier was insane at the time and plans to present that to a jury. “it’s incredibly hard. I think there’s a huge amount of innate bias against insanity defense there’s a lot of scholarly literature and sociology that backs that up,” Sleigh said. “Going to trial is inherently risky and I have enormous confidence in our ability to persuade a jury.”

Questions are now being developed for potential jurors. The goal is for the trial to get underway by spring.

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