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Royalton murder suspect tells police shooting was self-defense

(WCAX)
Published: Mar. 18, 2020 at 5:37 PM EDT
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A Royalton man accused of second-degree murder faced a judge on Wednesday. His lawyer indicated it's a case of self-defense. Our Adam Sullivan has details from the court.

It is still unclear exactly what happened during the early morning hours Tuesday, but we do know the homicide took place after a string of events that left one man dead and another hospitalized.

According to court paperwork, Francis Phelps, 29, admitted he shot George Sun, 41. It happened outside Phelps' brother's house in Royalton. Phelps told police he went there with a gun after Sun threatened family members and showed up at the property.

Sun is the ex-boyfriend of Phelps' mother.

Sun died at the scene. Another man, Dakota Fielder, 26, was also shot during the incident and rushed to the hospital.

Phelps said the two men started coming at him, so he opened fire. But court papers indicate the two victims also had blunt force trauma wounds to the face.

The Windsor County State's Attorney Ward Goodenough declined to offer any details on the case, citing the ongoing investigation.

Ward Goodenough: Mr. Phelps is presumed innocent until proven otherwise and self-defense is an affirmative defense that would be something the defense would be able to raise at trial.

Reporter Adam Sullivan: But you obviously don't believe it was self-defense since you are filing a murder charge?

Ward Goodenough: Like I said, any issue of self-defense would be an affirmative defense that the defense would need to prove at trial.

The judge ordered Phelps held without bail. A weight of the evidence hearing will be the next step in the case, however, that has not yet been scheduled.

Phelps' friends and family were in court for Wednesday's hearing. They declined to comment on camera afterward but they did say that they are confident he will be fully exonerated.

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