State’s own expert deals blow to Vermont Attorney General’s refiled murder case

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<img data-attachment-id="197044" data-permalink="https://vtdigger.org/2017/03/30/church-street-murder-suspect-seeks-represent/20170330fortier1/" data-orig-file="https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/20170330FORTIER1.jpg" data-orig-size="4000,2778" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"GLENN RUSSELL/FREE PRESS","camera":"","caption":"Louis Fortier appears via video during his arraignment in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington on Thursday, March 30, 2017. Fortier is accused of fatally stabbing Richard Medina on Church Street in Burlington on Wednesday. (Pool photo by Glenn Russell/The Burlington Free Press)","created_timestamp":"1490873176","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"20170330FORTIER1","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="Louis Fortier" data-image-description="

Louis Fortier appears via video during his arraignment in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington on Thursday, March 30, 2017. Fortier is accused of fatally stabbing Richard Medina on Church Street in Burlington on Wednesday. (Pool photo by Glenn Russell/The Burlington Free Press)

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Louis Fortier appears via video during his arraignment in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington on Thursday, March 30, 2017. Fortier is accused of fatally stabbing Richard Medina on Church Street in Burlington on Wednesday. (Pool photo by Glenn Russell/The Burlington Free Press)

” data-medium-file=”https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/20170330FORTIER1-300×208.jpg” data-large-file=”https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/20170330FORTIER1-610×424.jpg” width=”610″ height=”424″ src=”https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/20170330FORTIER1-610×424.jpg” alt class=”wp-image-197044″ srcset=”https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/20170330FORTIER1-610×424.jpg 610w, https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/20170330FORTIER1-125×87.jpg 125w, https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/20170330FORTIER1-300×208.jpg 300w, https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/20170330FORTIER1-768×533.jpg 768w, https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/20170330FORTIER1-150×104.jpg 150w” sizes=”(max-width: 610px) 100vw, 610px”><img data-attachment-id="197044" data-permalink="https://vtdigger.org/2017/03/30/church-street-murder-suspect-seeks-represent/20170330fortier1/" data-orig-file="https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/20170330FORTIER1.jpg" data-orig-size="4000,2778" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"GLENN RUSSELL/FREE PRESS","camera":"","caption":"Louis Fortier appears via video during his arraignment in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington on Thursday, March 30, 2017. Fortier is accused of fatally stabbing Richard Medina on Church Street in Burlington on Wednesday. (Pool photo by Glenn Russell/The Burlington Free Press)","created_timestamp":"1490873176","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"20170330FORTIER1","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="Louis Fortier" data-image-description="

Louis Fortier appears via video during his arraignment in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington on Thursday, March 30, 2017. Fortier is accused of fatally stabbing Richard Medina on Church Street in Burlington on Wednesday. (Pool photo by Glenn Russell/The Burlington Free Press)

” data-image-caption=”

Louis Fortier appears via video during his arraignment in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington on Thursday, March 30, 2017. Fortier is accused of fatally stabbing Richard Medina on Church Street in Burlington on Wednesday. (Pool photo by Glenn Russell/The Burlington Free Press)

” data-medium-file=”https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/20170330FORTIER1-300×208.jpg” data-large-file=”https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/20170330FORTIER1-610×424.jpg” width=”610″ height=”424″ src=”https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/20170330FORTIER1-610×424.jpg” alt class=”lazyload wp-image-197044″ data-sizes=”(max-width: 610px) 100vw, 610px” srcset=”https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/20170330FORTIER1-610×424.jpg 610w, https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/20170330FORTIER1-125×87.jpg 125w, https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/20170330FORTIER1-300×208.jpg 300w, https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/20170330FORTIER1-768×533.jpg 768w, https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/20170330FORTIER1-150×104.jpg 150w”>

Louis Fortier appears via video during his arraignment in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington in 2017. Fortier is accused of fatally stabbing Richard Medina on Church Street in Burlington. Pool photo by Glenn Russell/The Burlington Free Press

A Vermont man whose murder charge was dropped when Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George said she couldn’t rebut an insanity defense has now been found insane by an expert hired by the Vermont Attorney General’s Office, which had refiled the case.

The news is the latest turn in the murder case against Louis Fortier, accused of stabbing and killing Richard Medina, 43, on the Church Street Marketplace in Burlington during the afternoon of March 29, 2017.

A hearing in the case was held Thursday morning in Chittenden County Superior criminal court in Burlington. 

David Sleigh, an attorney for Fortier, said afterward that during the hearing Assistant Attorney General Robert Lees told the judge that the state’s forensic psychologist had determined that Fortier was insane when Medina was stabbed to death.

“The state announced that their hired expert agreed with the court-appointed expert and our hired expert that Mr. Fortier was insane at the time of the alleged murder,” Sleigh said. “I think that the case for insanity has been a strong one for a long, long time.” 

Prosecutors still must decide whether to dismiss the case, Sleigh said, or continue to proceed to a trial.

The Vermont Attorney General’s Office, in response to a request for comment, issued a written statement.

“As stated during today’s appearance, the Attorney General’s Office received its expert’s opinion in the ongoing prosecution of Louis Fortier for the murder of Richard Medina,” the statement read. “Given the seriousness of this charge, the Office is in the process of carefully reviewing the expert’s opinion.” 

George dropped the murder charge against Fortier in June 2019, saying she could not counter an insanity defense after examinations determined Fortier was schizophrenic and insane at the time of the attack.

At the same time George dismissed the case against Fortier, she also dropped two unrelated cases — one for murder, the other attempted murder — for similar reasons.

Gov. Phil Scott then called on Vermont Attorney TJ Donovan to review all three cases, and in all three cases Donovan took the unusual step of reviving a prosecution dismissed by a county state’s attorney.  

Donovan stepped down as attorney general earlier this month. 

George said Thursday she wasn’t surprised by the latest expert findings in Fortier’s case. 

“I did not make the decision that I made lightly,” George said of dismissing the murder charge. “It was with a lot of legal thought.” 

“I don’t know what the AG’s office will ultimately decide to do,” she continued. “But, I am not surprised.” 

Jack Lyons contributed to this article.

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