BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont man convicted of murder in the deaths of five teenagers killed on an interstate highway in a wrong-way crash is seeking a new trial.
Attorneys for Steven Bourgoin acknowledged he caused the October 2016 crash but said he was insane at the time. The defense says prosecutors provided little to no direct evidence about Bourgoin’s mental state the night of the fatal crash, WCAX-TV reported .
Bourgoin was convicted in May. He is scheduled to be sentenced later this month. He’s facing 20-years to life in prison on each count.
During the trial, psychiatrists said that in the days before the crash, Bourgoin thought he was on a secret mission, believed he was in danger and he thought he was getting signals from lights, radios and television static about what to do.
Prosecutors countered that Bourgoin was troubled at the time of the crash, grappling with custody of his child and relationship and financial issues, but he was not legally insane.
Bourgoin left home the night of the crash, got onto Interstate 89 going south and then turned around, approaching 90 miles (144 kilometers) per hour north in the southbound lane, police said. He collided with the car that carried the teenagers in Williston.
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.
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 defense noted Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George’s recent decision to dismiss charges in three other cases involving the insanity defense. They say her comments in those cases cast doubts about the credibility of some mental health experts.