Thu 26-MAR-2015 Noon News Script
Good afternoon, I'm Roger Garrity. One of the three suspects charged in the 2010 killing of Sheffield grandmother, Pat O'Hagan, has changed his plea. 27 year-old Richard Fletcher pleaded guilty this morning to kidnapping and burglary. The state dropped the 1st degree murder charge against him in exchange for his testimony against the other two suspects. Prosecutor Lisa Warren says Fletcher was not the shooter in the O'Hagan murder. She told Judge Robert Bent that there's not a lot of physical evidence so Fletcher's testimony is vital to the state's case against Keith Baird and Michael Norrie. Under the plea deal, Fletcher will serve 14-15 years in prison.
A Burlington Police officer says he did NOT repeatedly assault a member of his family. 45-year-old Nathan Harvey was in court this morning. He pleaded not guilty to two counts of domestic assault for alleged attacks at his Swanton home last fall. In one incident -- police say Harvey put someone in a chokehold. In another -- he allegedly got drunk and knocked the same victim unconscious. Police say the assaults only recently came to light after a DCF worker received an anonymous tip. Burlington police put Harvey on administrative leave. B-P-D says it will conduct an internal investigation.
A Woodstock Police officer will also be in court today -- facing new charges -- also in connection with a domestic abuse case. Mark McComas of Quechee was charged with aggravated domestic assault and domestic assault last month. Now police say he violated his conditions of release by contacting the victim -- and the children of the victim last week.
The state budget is up for debate today in the Vermont House. Lawmakers are trying to find a balance of new revenues and spending reductions to close a projected 112-million dollar budget hole. Liberal Democrats don't like the plan that came out of the Appropriations Committee this week. They have proposed a couple of amendments that would raise more revenue -- and prevent some cuts. One proposal is to raise about 11-million dollars thru an increase in income taxes for the wealthiest 7000 Vermonters. Supporters of that plan want to use the money to stave off cuts in social programs. A second idea is to add a two dollar per night occupancy fee on all hotel stays in Vermont. That also would raise around 11-million dollars. Proponents want that money to offset proposed state job cuts. Kyle Midura is covering the budget debate. He'll have a full report on the news at 5:00 and 6:00.
Vermont's public safety commissioner doesn't like a legislative plan that delays consolidating state dispatch centers. The Shumlin administration wants to close two public safety answering points to save nearly two million dollars, mainly thru cutting 30 state jobs. The House appropriations committee wants to find another solution that will keep the call centers open -- and has voted to put off the closures. We asked Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn for his reaction.
((Keith Flynn/Vt. Public Safety Cmsr: " ... will be more expensive.")) The lawmakers want to explore whether the state can find money to keep the dispatch centers open by charging communities that rely on state dispatchers. Flynn expressed doubts that move would work.
Governor Shumlin's Chief of Staff is leaving in May. Liz Miller joined the Shumlin Administration in 2011 as Commissioner of the Department of Public Service. She'll step down at the end of the current legislative session. Replacing Miller is Darren Springer -- who is the current Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Public Service.
A cracked windshield forced an emergency landing at the Burlington Airport this morning. The U-S Airways Express jet was flying from Philadelphia to Montreal when the pilot reported a crack developing. To be safe, the pilot decided to land -- and Burlington was the closest airport.
((Doug Wood, Airport Operations Foreman Burlington International 00:02:10:16 - 00:02:24:25 The crack was reportedly getting larger and working its way down the windshield, so the pilots elected to get the plane on the ground as soon as possible and have it inspected before they did lose the windshield.)) ((David Lazare,Passenger, 00:09:53:12 - 00:10:01:29 I think it was a good move. It could always be worse, right? A cracked windshield. Good thing the pilot made the decision to land the plane.)) The airline says there were about 50 passengers on board -- and they were working to schedule a bus to complete their journey to Montreal.
The surprises keep coming for a Waterbury woman who was reunited earlier this month with her mother after 43 years apart. Phinne Vannavong and her mother found each other two weeks ago at the Burlington airport. Since then Phinne has also met her two younger sisters and found another family member in Vietnam. Plus -- her mom is now walking without a cane for the first time in 3 years.
((09:05 Ly Thi Sinh Judd /Phinne's Mom "I don't have to walk no stick no more....... 08:03 I just sit down and cried, I didn't know what to say. I can't believe I found my daughter. 5")) ((Phinne Vannavong 01:05 I just hoped for my mom to be strong and healthy, happy with me forever, that's the only thing I wished.)) The duo was reunited after a combined 30 years of searching for one another -- both had changed their names...making it difficult for one to find the other.
Today: Rain, Some mountain snow Highs: 42 to 48 Wind: S to NW 5 to 15 mph Tonight: Scattered rain/snow showers Lows: 28 to 35 Wind: N 5 to 10 mph Friday: Mostly cloudy A few, scattered snow/rain showers Highs: 33 to 40 Wind: N 5 to 10 mph Extended: Saturday: Partly sunny Lows: 12 to 22 Highs: 22 to 32 Sunday: Partly cloudy Lows: 8 to 18 Highs: 30s Monday: Mostly cloudy Rain/snow showers Lows: 20s Highs: 38 to 48 Hyper-Extended: Tuesday: Chance for AM snow showers Then partly cloudy Blustery Lows: 20s Highs: 30s Wednesday: Partly sunny Lows: 10 to 20 Highs: 35 to 45
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Last Update: Thu 26-MAR-2015
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