- Associated Press - Friday, January 22, 2021

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - A quintuple murder conviction stemming from the 2016 deaths of five teens in a car crash was before the Vermont Supreme Court this week.

The defense for Steven Bourgoin argued Thursday that the testimony at trial from forensic psychiatrist Dr. Paul Cotton was a procedural blindside that undermined their case that Bourgoin was insane, WPTZ-TV reported.

“The trial court in this case greenlit an ambush,” defense attorney Josh O’Hara said.

Chittenden County Deputy State’s Attorney Andrew Gilbertson said that Bourgoin was not prejudiced by Cotton’s testimony.

“It wasn’t something new or totally different or totally contradictory to what was already before the jury,” Gilbertson said.

The crash killed 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. Four of the teenagers attended Harwood Union High School in Duxbury. Cozzi attended Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, New Hampshire.

Prosecutors had argued that Bourgoin had a history of intense anger issues and intentionally drove the wrong way in a fit of rage. His defense attorneys said Bourgoin was under the delusion that he was carrying out a secret mission for the government.

Bourgoin was convicted of five counts of second-degree murder as well as lesser charges in 2019 and sentenced to 30 years to life in prison. Prosecutors want the conviction and prison sentence to stand.

It could take months for the Supreme Court to make a decision on the appeal.

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