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Vt. man guilty in fatal wrong-way crash that killed 5 teens

Defense attorneys claimed Steven Bourgoin was psychotic and delusional at the time of the 2016 crash, and believed he was on a secret mission.
Credit: Glenn Russell/VTDigger.org via AP, Pool, File
Steven Bourgoin arrives at the courtroom for his murder trial in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington on Tuesday, May 21, 2019.

BURLINGTON, Vt. — A jury has found a Vermont man guilty of second-degree murder in the deaths of five teenagers caused when he drove the wrong way on an interstate highway.

The jury returned the verdict Wednesday in the case of 38-year-old Steven Bourgoin following a two-week trial in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington.

Bourgoin had pleaded not guilty to five counts of second-degree murder and other charges.

The jury rejected the claim by Bourgoin that he was insane at the time of the October 2016 crash on Interstate 89 in Williston.

Bourgoin's attorneys acknowledge that he was driving the pickup truck that hit the teenagers' vehicle, but they say he was psychotic and delusional at the time of the crash and believed he was on a secret mission.

Two psychiatrists who testified for the defense, including one originally hired by prosecutors, said that in the days leading up to the crash, Bourgoin believed he was in danger and thought he was getting inferences from lights, radios and television static about what to do, they said.

Another psychiatrist diagnosed him as having an adjustment disorder with disturbance of mood behavior but said he was sane at the time of the crash.

Prosecutors said Bourgoin left his home that night, got onto I-89 going south and then turned around, nearing 90 miles per hour traveling north in the southbound lane.

After the initial crash, Bourgoin allegedly stole a Williston police cruiser and again headed south on the interstate before turning around and crashing again into vehicles at the original crash scene.

The crash killed four students from Harwood Union High School in Duxbury — Mary Harris, 16, of Moretown; Cyrus Zschau, 16, of Moretown; Liam Hale, 16, of Fayston; and Eli Brookens, 16, of Waterbury — and a friend who attended Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, New Hampshire — Janie Cozzi, 15, of Fayston.

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