Man injured in Burlington shootout arraigned at hospital

Published: Apr. 26, 2019 at 11:52 AM EDT
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The sixth and final defendant connected to what police are calling a deadly, drug-related shooting in Burlington's Old North End faced a judge Friday.

James Felix covered his face as he was pushed in a wheelchair into a UVM Medical Center conference room for a five-minute arraignment for second-degree murder.

The 36-year-old was covered in bandages after being shot several times last week during what police say was a shootout in the Old North End that killed 23-year-old Benzel Hampton.

Felix, through his lawyer, pleaded not guilty. He is being held without bail. Court paperwork says that he assisted in the killing of Hampton.

"He took part in the physical attack on Hampton and then immediately Mr. Hampton was shot by Mr. Felix's co-defendants," said Chittenden County Deputy State's Attorney Justin Jiron.

Prosecutors say Felix wrestled Hampton to the ground. That's when they say two of his accomplices opened fire. "Mr. Ford has been identified as a person who actually fired a weapon, as has Mr. Sanders," Jiron said.

And prosecutors say Hampton shot back, hitting Felix multiple times.

Right now Brandon Sanders, 18, and Johnny Ford, 32, also face second-degree murder charges. They both pleaded not guilty Thursday in court and are being held without bail. Three women have also been charged as accessories -- Lesine Woodson, Angelina Fitzpatrick, and Takesha Thomas.

But Thomas is cooperating. Earlier this week she accepted a plea deal. If she testifies against the other suspects, the most serious charges against her will be dropped. She helped police find the guns. Right now the state says Thomas is not in witness protection.

"The biggest benefit to the state was really getting the firearms back -- not that they are very important evidence in this case -- but a substantial danger to the public where they were discarded," Jiron said.

Reporter Ike Bendavid: After six people have been charged, how does the state feel with this case where it stands right now?

Justin Jiron: We are comfortable that there are no other individuals that are connected to this event that we plan to charge.

Felix remains in the hospital and it's not clear when he will be transferred to prison.