Mother, daughter to stand trial together in Highgate murder case – VTDigger

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Carmen Guttilla, left, and Erika Guttilla. Photos courtesy of Vermont State Police

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Carmen Guttilla, left, and Erika Guttilla. Photos courtesy of Vermont State Police

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Carmen Guttilla, left, and Erika Guttilla. Photos courtesy of Vermont State Police

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Carmen Guttilla, left, and Erika Guttilla. Photos courtesy of Vermont State Police

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Carmen Guttilla, left, and Erika Guttilla. Photos courtesy of Vermont State Police

A mother and daughter from Highgate will stand trial together in a murder case that has been pending in Franklin County for more than three years.

Erika Guttilla, 34, and her mother, Carmen Guttilla, 63, both agreed during separate hearings Wednesday in Franklin County Superior criminal court in St. Albans that they wanted to be tried together.

Erika Guttilla is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her 35-year-old former boyfriend Troy Ford, whose body was found in the woods in May 2018. Carmen Guttilla has been charged with aiding in the commission of first-degree murder.

They have pleaded not guilty and have been held at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility, the state’s only women’s prison, since their arrest in May 2018, soon after Ford’s body was found.

Erika and Carmen Guttilla appeared for their separate hearings Wednesday via video from the women’s prison.

Under questioning from their attorneys, they each told Judge Martin Maley they understood their decisions to hold a joint trial, and they each affirmed that was what they wanted.

Precisely when they will stand trial remains an open question.

Maley told the attorneys he had tentatively planned for the trial to take place in early January, but David Sleigh, an attorney for Carmen Guttilla, told the judge he has a trial set for the end of January and then another one in February. 

However, Sleigh said he understood the case against his client has been pending for a long time, so he would do his best to make the early January trial date work.

According to police affidavits in support of the charges, 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 allegedly supplied heroin and cocaine. Those allegations against Ford have not been corroborated.

Erika Guttilla, according to a police affidavit, told investigators she shot Ford, her ex-boyfriend, as he slept in the family home in Highgate.

Carmen Guttilla is accused of helping her daughter wrap Ford’s body in a carpet and placing it in a garbage container that sat on the back porch of the Guttilla family’s home for several weeks, according to the police affidavit.

Eventually, police said, Ford’s body was moved to an abandoned playground in nearby woods and was discovered by neighbors who were walking there.

Erika and Carmen Guttilla were arrested in May 2018, shortly after the neighbors found Ford’s body.

Corey Cassani, Erika’s boyfriend at the time, has already 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.

Franklin County Deputy State’s Attorney John Lavoie, a prosecutor in the case, told the judge during Wednesday’s hearing that he did not object to holding a joint trial for Erika and Carmen Guttilla, particularly because they both agreed he could use each of their statements during the proceeding. 

Earlier plea talks in both cases stalled.

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