Attorneys completed their presentations Monday in a rare quintuple murder case in Vermont’s Chittenden County, meaning the jury can now begin its work.
Defendant Steven Bourgoin of Williston is charged with five counts of murder—accused of killing a car full of teenagers with his vehicle in October of 2016 in a fiery wrong-way crash.
Jurors were sent home late Monday afternoon, following the attorneys’ closing arguments. After jury instructions, deliberations will begin Tuesday morning, Judge Kevin Griffin said.
Eli Brookens, 16, of Waterbury, Janie Chase Cozzi, 15, of Fayston, Liam Hale, 16, of Fayston, Mary Harris, 16, of Moretown, and Cyrus Zschau, 16, of Moretown were killed on Interstate 89 in Williston as they headed home from a concert.
Childhood friends, Brookens, Hale, Harris, and Zschau attended Harwood Union High School in Duxbury, and Chase Cozzi was a student at Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, New Hampshire.
Over the two-week trial of Bourgoin, prosecutors repeatedly described a life that had fallen apart—with the defendant’s finances, relationship, and parenting all crumbling.
That, prosecutors have attempted to convince jurors, left Bourgoin in a rage and with no regard for human life the night in 2016 when he turned around on I-89, and headed the wrong way, speeding up before turning sharply to crash into the small sedan full of teenagers heading home from a concert—killing them all.
Bourgoin is accused of then stealing a police cruiser and heading on another wrong-way drive before crashing that car into his own mangled truck.
In her closing argument, Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George reminded jurors of witness testimony that described the scene as looking like “a war zone” full of “carnage.”
“The state has proven in each of these charges that Mr. Bourgoin was aware of every decision he made, and he ignored the risks of each of those decisions,” George told jurors.
Bourgoin could spend the rest of his life in prison if he’s convicted of the five murder charges.
The defense has not disputed many of the details of the crashes themselves.
“There’s no doubt this case involves sadness beyond comprehension,” defense attorney Bob Katims acknowledged in his closing argument.
However, Katims firmly believes his client can’t be held legally responsible, telling jurors Bourgoin was insane at the time, and delusional.
Bourgoin believed himself to be on a top-secret government mission, his attorney said, telling jurors the defendant was seeing things and even thinking he was receiving directions via messages hidden in TV and radio waves.
“Steven Bourgoin wasn’t suicidal, he wasn’t rageful—he was psychotic,” Katims argued.
When jurors weigh those closing arguments in the murder trial, they could determine guilt, innocence based on insanity, or they could consider lesser charges, like involuntary manslaughter.