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Why a murder suspect won't be allowed to contact her father

(WCAX)
Published: Jan. 3, 2020 at 3:55 PM EST
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We have an update on a Highgate murder from 2017. The woman police say pulled the trigger made a request to the judge on Friday and we found out when she is set to face a jury. Our Dom Amato was in court Friday and gets you up to speed on the case and where it is at.

Erika Guttilla is accused of shooting and killing her boyfriend Troy Ford in December 2017. She's been held in jail since May 2018 and is asking to speak with her father, but that's not allowed because he's a potential witness in her first-degree murder trial.

"He would be her only connection to the outside world," defense attorney Amanda Kitchen said.

Kitchen says Erika Guttilla suffers from depression, anxiety and growing stress about her charges. She's charged with first-degree murder after police say she killed her boyfriend Troy Ford more than two years ago.

According to court paperwork, Guttilla told police the living situation at her Highgate home was unbearable, that Ford was abusive and she began dreaming of harming him.

The state says Guttilla's father was living at the same home at the time of the murder and Ford was supplying him with heroin.

"Dad becomes dependent on the victim for supplying these drugs and is one of the reasons his presence is tolerated in the house leading up to the murder," Franklin County Deputy State's Attorney John Lavoie said.

After a big fight in early December, Guttilla told police she put a gun to Ford's head and pulled the trigger while he slept. She also told them her mother, Carmen, helped roll Ford's body up in a rug and put it on the back porch.

Carmen Guttilla is charged with being an accessory after the fact.

Police say the body stayed there until Erika Guttilla told another man about the shooting, her new boyfriend Corey Cassani. Guttilla told police he helped her dump the body at an abandoned playground in Highgate. Cassani has already been sentenced for being an accessory after the fact.

On Friday, the judge denied Erika Guttilla's request to have contact with her father because the state says he's a witness in the murder trial set for May.

"Given the seriousness of this case, given the dad, it sounds like dad is a significant witness here, I just can't see a way of allowing the contact at this point," Vermont Superior Court Judge Scot Kline said.

Erika Guttilla and her mother, Carmen, continue to be held without bail.

Carmen Guttilla has been able to have contact with her husband while she's been behind bars. But the state says she is not facing a murder charge like her daughter is. Carmen Guttilla will be back in court later this month.

Again, at this time, Erika Guttilla's trial is set for May.