7th person sentenced in 2019 Burlington murder

Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 9:40 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A seventh and final person has been sentenced for drug and firearm offenses connected to a 2019 Burlington murder.

Authorities say James Felix was sentenced to 11.5 years in prison in connection with the 2019 murder of Benzel Hampton.

According to court paperwork, Lesine Woodson came to Vermont from Orlando, Florida, to sell cocaine with Hampton. Shortly after, Woodson refused to use the profits to help Hampton bail out of jail after he was arrested. Woodson took over the business, starting a feud, which eventually led to Hampton’s murder.

Woodson brought several other people to Vermont, including her 18-year-old cousin Brandon Sanders, her boyfriend James Felix and childhood friend Johnny Ford.

In early 2019, the group lived in an apartment on LaFountain Street in Burlington selling cocaine. Jennifer MacDonald and Devlin Koski worked for Woodson as well.

On April 16, 2019, the feud between Woodson and Hampton started to heat up, after he sent a text referring to Ford and saying, “this is my city” and “checkmate.” After receiving the messages, Felix and the others drove to a residence on North Willard Street and waited for Hampton to arrive. Both Felix and Ford had guns. Authorities say when Hampton walked out, Felix tackled him. Hampton had a gun and started firing. He hit Felix several times. Ford and Felix shot back, with Ford’s bullet hitting Hampton in the chest and head. Felix shot him in the head.

Police say everyone ran away, leaving Hampton to die in the driveway. Woodson and Felix were arrested outside the UVM Medical Center.

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