BURLINGTON, Vt. – A judge has refused to move the trial of a man facing murder charges in a wrong-way highway crash that killed five teenagers who were driving home from a concert.
State Superior Court Judge Kevin Griffin rejected a call by the attorneys for 37-year-old Steven Bourgoin to move his trial out of Chittenden County because of what they felt was extensive pre-trial publicity, the Burlington Free Press reported .
"Chittenden County offers the largest pool of jurors from which a panel can be selected in the state," the judge wrote in the decision, issued last week. "Given the statewide nature of the news coverage alleged by Defendant to be prejudicial, this fact further supports the Court finding that a change of venue is unwarranted."
Defense attorney Bob Katims on Monday declined to comment on the judge's decision. In March, Katims filed a notice with the court that he planned to use an insanity defense.
Bourgoin has pleaded not guilty to five counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of the teenagers, who attended high schools in Vermont and New Hampshire. Prosecutors say Bourgoin drove his pickup truck the wrong way on Interstate 89 on Oct. 8, 2016, and collided head-on with the students' vehicle.
After the initial crash, Bourgoin stole the police cruiser of one of the responding officers and then hit seven cars, causing several injuries, prosecutors say.
The initial crash killed four students from Harwood Union High School in Duxbury and a friend who attended Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, New Hampshire. The students had been driving home from a concert in South Burlington.
The teens, who died at the scene of the crash in Williston, were Mary Harris, 16, of Moretown; Cyrus Zschau, 16, of Moretown; Liam Hale, 16, of Fayston; Janie Cozzi, 15, of Fayston; and Eli Brookens, 16, of Waterbury.
Classmates, teachers and staff at Harwood Union held a candlelight vigil for them, and about 1,000 people attended.
This story has been corrected to show the decision was issued last week, not Monday.
Information from: The Burlington Free Press, http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com