(Host) The man accused of murdering UVM student Michelle Gardner-Quinn appeared briefly in a Burlington courthouse on Thursday to answer those charges. Brian Rooney pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder, a charge that carries a penalty of life in prison without parole.
The arraignment in Vermont District Court lasted only a few minutes. Rooney stood quietly and said nothing as his defense attorney entered the plea.
In court documents, Burlington police said DNA evidence links Rooney with the sexual assault and murder of Gardner-Quinn. The college senior was last seen alive walking near downtown Burlington with Rooney very early in the morning of October 7. Her body was found a week later near Huntington Gorge in Richmond. Police believe the murder occurred between 2:30 and 4:30 that morning. Where she was murdered has not been determined.
Deputy State’s Attorney Justin Jiron:
(Jiron) “Without him coming forward with the full accounting of where he was during that time – and again, pending whatever the rest of the evidence is still being analyzed – we may not know what happened during the rest of those two hours.”
(Host) According to police, Rooney said he was drunk and doesn’t remember what happened that night. The police affidavit says that Rooney told police, “I honestly don’t know what I did that night. If I did it, I deserve to die.”
David Sleigh is Rooney’s defense attorney. He says the affidavit represents only the investigator’s version of the story.
(Sleigh) “Brian Rooney is presumed innocent and is legally innocent. And we intend to test the strength of the state’s case in a court of law, not in the court of public opinion.”
(Host) Rooney is being held without bail. He also faces unrelated charges of sexual assault against three other women. Those charges developed during the investigation into Gardner-Quinn’s disappearance.