Interview: Fell case challenges death penalty

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Vermont is one of just 12 states with no death penalty, but a recent decision by a federal appeals court could bring about the first death penalty trial in Vermont in half a century.

The case involves a former Rutland man named Donald Fell, charged with the kidnapping and murder of a North Clarendon woman in November of 2000. The federal death penalty is a possibility because Fell allegedly transported the victim across state lines into New York.

But Vermont District Court judge William Sessions ruled in September of 2002 against any prosecution in Vermont that would include capital punishment, declaring the federal death penalty unconstitutional. That decision has now been overturned by the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals.

Mitch Wertlieb talks with Matt Valerio about whether the case could ultimately go to the U.S. Supreme Court on appeal. Valerio is the defender general of Vermont, and was the executive director of the Vermont Bar Association at the time this case first came to light.

(To hear the interview, click on the “Listen” icon.)

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