Capital Murder Defendant Complains About Handcuffs

Donald Fell
File Photo

A Vermont man facing a new trial that could bring the death penalty complained it's too painful to be handcuffed all day for trips to court, so he doesn't want to attend future court dates.

A procedural hearing was held Friday in the federal court building in Burlington for Donald Fell, in advance of a capital murder trial expected for September of 2016.

Prosecutors say Fell and another man abducted Terry King outside a grocery store in Rutland back in 2000, then drove her to rural New York state and killed her as she prayed for her life. Fell was convicted in 2005 and had been sitting on death row until that conviction was overturned.

The court discovered a rogue member of the jury had personally investigated crime scenes on his own, which is not allowed in trials, so Judge William Sessions ordered a new trial. The new trial will be overseen by a different judge.

Friday, Fell waived his right to attend future hearings in advance of the trial, saying the ride from the detention center in Brooklyn is long and uncomfortable, and that he gets bruises from handcuffs and shackles.

"'Because he feels uncomfortable' is bull," said Lori Hibbard, Terry King's daughter. "We feel uncomfortable, and I'm sure my mother did for the three and half hour ride she took with him. That part bothered me the most."

Hibbard told reporters outside the court that she and her family will be in the front row for Fell's second capital murder trial next year, and that they are confident justice will be served.

"Seeing [Fell] is hard," Hibbard said. "But other than that, I'm pretty happy we're going for the death penalty and we'll see it again, I'm sure."

Fell’s defense plans to challenge the death penalty as it applies to this case, and more broadly in the criminal justice system.

WPTZ-TV contributed to this report.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us