A rare quintuple murder case was before a Vermont judge Friday. That judge must rule on the ability of a man accused of killing five teenagers with a vehicle to comprehend the legal proceedings and allegations against him.
"This case is of the highest priority for our office," said Bram Kranichfeld, a Chittenden County prosecutor.
Suspect Steven Bourgoin was not in court for Friday's status conference.
At his arraignment in October, Bourgoin pled not guilty to five second-degree murder charges. He was accused of going on a wild wrong-way drive on Interstate 89 that ended with a crash that killed a car full of teenagers.
The teens were childhood friends from the Harwood Union School District.
Eli Brookens, Janie Chase Cozzi, Liam Hale, Mary Harris, and Cyrus Zschau have been remembered as positive, upbeat kids who loved the outdoors and who brought joy to their many friends, relatives, and neighbors.
In a critical procedural step for the court case, the defense team for Steven Bourgoin said Friday it would not contest a doctor's finding from a psych exam that their client is able to comprehend the legal proceedings.
Judge Jim Crucitti still must rule on Bourgoin's mental competency before much of the case can advance.
"We are going to do everything we can to ensure that Mr. Bourgoin is held accountable for his actions," prosecutor Kranichfeld said.
In paperwork previously filed with the court, detectives described Bourgoin's personal life and finances as chaotic before that fatal wreck.
Prosecutors stopped short this fall of speculating whether Bourgoin was suicidal. They also have not discussed contents of toxicology tests, pending further investigation.
Lawyers on both sides said Friday they're still awaiting more details from the crash report.
The mother of one of the teenagers killed in the tragedy was in the courtroom Friday, though declined to comment.
Lead defense attorney Bob Katims also declined necn's request for comment.