Mother and daughter set to plead guilty in 2018 Highgate murder case – VTDigger

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<img data-attachment-id="235136" data-permalink="https://vtdigger.org/2018/05/08/runaway-suspects-charged-highgate-slaying/bur20180508gutilla3/" data-orig-file="https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/BUR20180508GUTILLA3.jpg" data-orig-size="4000,2811" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"3.5","credit":"POOL PHOTO BY GREG LAMOUREAUX/COUNTY COURIER","camera":"Canon EOS 5D Mark III","caption":"Erika Guttilla appears in Vermont Superior Court in St. Albans on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. Guttilla and Corey Cassani are charged for their involvement in the November 2017 death of Troy Ford. (Pool photo by Greg Lamoureaux/County Courier)","created_timestamp":"1525805650","copyright":"","focal_length":"95","iso":"3200","shutter_speed":"0.003125","title":"BUR20180508GUTILLA3","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="Erika Guttilla" data-image-description="

Erika Guttilla appears in Vermont Superior Court in St. Albans on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. Pool photo by Greg Lamoureaux/County Courier

” data-image-caption=”

Erika Guttilla appears in Vermont Superior Court in St. Albans on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. Pool photo by Greg Lamoureaux/County Courier

” data-medium-file=”https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/BUR20180508GUTILLA3-300×211.jpg” data-large-file=”https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/BUR20180508GUTILLA3-610×429.jpg” width=”610″ height=”429″ src=”https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/BUR20180508GUTILLA3-610×429.jpg” alt=”Erika Guttilla” class=”wp-image-235136″ srcset=”https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/BUR20180508GUTILLA3-610×429.jpg 610w, https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/BUR20180508GUTILLA3-125×88.jpg 125w, https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/BUR20180508GUTILLA3-300×211.jpg 300w, https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/BUR20180508GUTILLA3-768×540.jpg 768w” sizes=”(max-width: 610px) 100vw, 610px”><img data-attachment-id="235136" data-permalink="https://vtdigger.org/2018/05/08/runaway-suspects-charged-highgate-slaying/bur20180508gutilla3/" data-orig-file="https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/BUR20180508GUTILLA3.jpg" data-orig-size="4000,2811" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"3.5","credit":"POOL PHOTO BY GREG LAMOUREAUX/COUNTY COURIER","camera":"Canon EOS 5D Mark III","caption":"Erika Guttilla appears in Vermont Superior Court in St. Albans on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. Guttilla and Corey Cassani are charged for their involvement in the November 2017 death of Troy Ford. (Pool photo by Greg Lamoureaux/County Courier)","created_timestamp":"1525805650","copyright":"","focal_length":"95","iso":"3200","shutter_speed":"0.003125","title":"BUR20180508GUTILLA3","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="Erika Guttilla" data-image-description="

Erika Guttilla appears in Vermont Superior Court in St. Albans on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. Pool photo by Greg Lamoureaux/County Courier

” data-image-caption=”

Erika Guttilla appears in Vermont Superior Court in St. Albans on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. Pool photo by Greg Lamoureaux/County Courier

” data-medium-file=”https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/BUR20180508GUTILLA3-300×211.jpg” data-large-file=”https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/BUR20180508GUTILLA3-610×429.jpg” width=”610″ height=”429″ src=”https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/BUR20180508GUTILLA3-610×429.jpg” alt=”Erika Guttilla” class=”lazyload wp-image-235136″ data-sizes=”(max-width: 610px) 100vw, 610px” srcset=”https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/BUR20180508GUTILLA3-610×429.jpg 610w, https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/BUR20180508GUTILLA3-125×88.jpg 125w, https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/BUR20180508GUTILLA3-300×211.jpg 300w, https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/BUR20180508GUTILLA3-768×540.jpg 768w”>

Erika Guttilla appears in Vermont Superior Court in St. Albans on May 8, 2018. Pool photo by Greg Lamoureaux/County Courier

A mother and daughter from Highgate are set to plead guilty next month in the shooting death of a man whose body was discovered in the woods almost four years ago.

Erika Guttilla, 35, and her mother, Carmen Guttilla, 64, each plan to plead guilty to an amended charge of second-degree murder under a deal with state prosecutors, according to court records.

They have been detained since May 2018, days after police said passersby stumbled upon the remains of 35-year-old Troy Ford, Erika Guttilla’s former boyfriend.

In exchange for each woman’s guilty plea, the Franklin County State’s Attorney’s Office agreed to ask for a prison sentence of no more than 20 years to life. The defendants, however, are free to argue for any legal sentence — including the suspension of any portion of their prison term.

Erika Guttilla is accused of shooting Ford in the head while he was sleeping at her family’s home in Highgate after a night of drinking in late 2017. She was originally charged with first-degree murder, punishable by 35 years to life in prison.

Carmen Guttilla is accused of helping her daughter wrap Ford’s body in a carpet and place it in a garbage container, which sat on the back porch of the home for several weeks. She was initially charged with aiding in the commission of first-degree murder, which also carries a potential prison sentence of 35 years to life.

According to police affidavits filed with the court, the Guttillas decided Ford had “to go” because of his alleged abusive behavior toward Erika as well as other family members to whom he also reportedly supplied heroin and cocaine. These allegations against Ford have not been corroborated.

Eventually, investigators said, Ford’s body was moved to a wooded area in Highgate where it was discovered by a couple of people on a walk.

Erika and Carmen Guttilla signed plea agreements in mid-December, about a month after they told the court that plea negotiations had stalled and that they had decided to go to trial in 2022.

They are scheduled for hearings on the plea change and sentencing at the state criminal court in St. Albans on March 10 and 11.  

Carmen Guttilla’s attorney, David Sleigh, said the defendants will be presenting testimony from various witnesses, including experts. 

“Unlike some sentencing where there isn’t really a lot of factual information presented, there’ll be a lot in this case,” Sleigh said.

When asked what led to his client’s plea agreement after nearly four years of prosecution, Sleigh said he wanted to wait until after the sentencing to discuss it.

Deputy State’s Attorney John Lavoie, a prosecutor in the case, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Corey Cassani, Erika Guttilla’s boyfriend at the time of her arrest, earlier reached a plea deal with prosecutors. He was sentenced in November 2019 to three to seven years in prison on a felony charge of being an accessory after the fact, plus three misdemeanor counts of violating the conditions of his release in earlier cases.

The Guttillas are being held without bail at Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility, the state’s lone women’s detention facility, in South Burlington.

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