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The Burlington Free Press from Burlington, Vermont • Page 11
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The Burlington Free Press from Burlington, Vermont • Page 11

Burlington, Vermont
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rr hp urlmyt0tt Monday, January 12,1981 Keller Says Plea-Bargaining Policy Working By WILLIAM H. BRAUN Free Press Staff Writer "We started to tighten the screws on the plea bargaining" when a sixth lawyer and a third secretary were added to his staff in mid-1980, Chittenden County State's Attorney Mark Keller said last week. As a result, the prosecutors' conviction rate has increased and the percentage of cases dismissed has dropped sharply, Keller said. So an additional restriction was adopted as part of office policy last Monday. From now on, there will be no agreements on recommended sentences in felony cases.

1 "We think we'll probably get better sentences out of it," Keller said, adding that "better" means "longer" from his point of view. During the first three months of 1980, about 25 psrcent of all cases referred by police to the office were dismissed. That was about average for the state but "not a Very good performance," Keller said. There has been gradual improvement since late last summer. In November 7 percent of the cases were dismissed outright.

In December the figure was down to 4 percent. In both months, 80 percent of the cases handled by the office resulted in convictions on the original charges, Keller said. The remaining cases were concluded with pleas to amended charges, dismissals by the court, diversions of first offenders and three cases in which the accused was found innocent following a trial. Since getting the additional lawyer, Keller said, 'To cut plea bargaining we've gone one step at a time to see how it affects our case load." The toughening up began with more thorough screening of cases brought to the office to assure that charges were brought if there was sufficient evidence. And if there was not, police were asked to get the additional evidence needed to make solid cases, Keller Said.

Then the lawyers started cutting back on the frequency with which they would agree with defense proposals to reduce or dismiss charges. There has been a corresponding increase in the number of trials and the prosecutors are now appearing before juries at almost double the rate of a year ago. The staff is averaging one and a half trials a week, Keller said. "Because we're willing to talk (bargain) less, the trial rate has gone up," Keller said. He pointed to records for driving while intoxicated prosecutions as an e'xample of how the tougher approach is working.

The charge is a misdemeanor but is nonetheless "a serious offense," Keller said, and his lawyers have been devoting more time to those cases. Turn to KELLER, Page 2B Free Press Photo by ELAINE ISAACASON CHITTENDEN COUNTY STATE'S ATTORNEY MARK KELLER fewer cases being dismissed without action Putter Says Report Had Part in Firing The Associated Press MONTPELIER The former assistant state attorney general fired last week by the new attorney general says he is sure his part in a critical report on the state police had something to do with his dismissal. Just a few hours after he was sworn in, Attorney General John Easton fired David Putter. Easton said he wanted his own people in the office, but the next day Putter said he is certain a report he wrote that is critical of Public Safety Commissioner Paul Philbrook and Vermont State Police commander Maj. James Ryan, was a factor in his firing.

"Easton wants to have good relations with the state police," Putter said. "I guess from his point of view 1PL If ti ftf wM 'ill 4 Oa jtpllilll 63-Year-Old Found Dead Near Home An autopsy, will be performed today on the body of John Winegar, 63, who was found dead outside his home at 101 Forest St. Sunday morning, Burlington police said. Lt. David Demag said the death appears to be accidental, but a complete investigation is being made.

Demag said Winegar was last seen about 8 p.m. Saturday by his wife, Mildred, a cook at the Oasis Diner in Burlington. Winegar went to a local club and is known to have taken a taxi home, Demag said. Winegar was found about 10 a.m. at the bottom of a steep bank in front of his house by his son Charles, 40, who was searching for him.

Winegar, who was a janitor at the Medical Center Hospital, was pronounced dead at the scene by Dr. E. Douglas McSweeney, regional cal examiner. The death revived the search for Selinda Winegar, 18, who ran away from home three years ago in March. She is believed to be living in the Burlington area.

Friends of Mrs. Winegar and her daughter Joan, 32, called newspapers, radio and television stations and even Gov. Richard A. Snelling Sunday in an effort to get the word out to Selinda that her father is dead. Contacted at home Sunday night, Mrs.

Winegar said she "hoping and praying" the daughter she has not seen in 34 months will call home. "She's my baby," Mrs. Winegar said, adding if Selinda returns "there will beno questions asked. Let bygones be bygones." Mrs. Winegar said a nephew of hers saw Selinda three or four months ago on Church Street.

When he called to her she ran, she said. Burlington Officer Charles J. Guyette, chief of the juvenile division, said, "We hava a lot of cases like that where we just can't forcibly take them home because they just run away again." Carol Limoge of North Avenue, who had worked with Mrs. Winegar cleaning carpets at IBM, said Selinda is "the only thing she's living for." Loss of Investigator Upsets Prosecutor Vermont Roundup 'Ghost Story' To Be Filmed In Woodstock The Associated Press WOODSTOCK Woodstock will be transformed this month into the fictional town of "Milburn, N.Y.," so crews from Universal City Studios can film scenes for "Ghost Story," based on the best-selling book by Peter Straub. Portions of Woodstock's Pleasant Street are being altered by studio workers.

A false front has been built over one store to depict an old-style movie theater, and other storefronts have been changed to disguise the town's identity. The movie will star Melvyn Douglas, Fred Astair, Douglas Fairbanks John Houseman and Patricia Neal. Filming will begin Jan. 19 at the bus station in White River Junction and shift to Woodstock, the next week. After the winter scenes have been shot, the crew will leave, and return in the spring for another few weeks of work.

Strike Team Tickets 207 Vermont State Police issued 207 traffic tickets during Friday and Saturday nights in Chitteden County and northern Addison County as part of the next-to-last Fatal Accident Strike Team enforcement weekend. Sgt. Dana O. Goodnow, pro-, gram coordinator, said the tickets were for a variety of reasons, including speeding, no license, violation of the law of the road, and stop sign violations. One driver was issued a citation for driving while his license was suspended, Goodnow said.

The team was designed to curb serious and fatal accidents by strict enforcement of traffic laws. No weekend highway deaths occurred in areas which the team was covering last year. Thirty-two motorists were assisted in subzero temperatures by the 13 troopers who worked each night, Goodnow said. The final enforcement is planned for Bennington and Windham counties Jan. 24 and 25.

Funds for the program have run out, officials said. State's Population Grew 1 5 Percent In Last Decade Vermont's population has risen 15 percent over the last decade, according to a preliminary report of the 1980 Census returns. As of April 1, 1980, the population of the state was 51 1,299, compared to 444,732 in 1970. The preliminary count of housing units in the state shows a 35.3 percent increase from 1970 with 223,466 units, including both occupied and vacant housing units. Agency to Show Plans for Bypass The Vermont Agency of Transportation will staff an in- formation office in the University Mall on Dorset Street in South Burlington Jan.

26 and 28 to provide information on the bypass planned to run between U.S. 7 and Interstate 189. Agency personnel will display the selected alternates for the project. Maps, cost estimates, the draft environmental impact statement and other information will be available for inspection. The office will be open from 1 to 8 p.m.

Jan. 26 and 1 to 5 D.m. Jan. 28. A public hearing on the project will be held Jan.

28 at 8 D.m. at the Central School, Free Press Photo by IRENE FERTIK VERMONT JUNIOR MISS DEBORAH L. DONLAN she is congratulated by last year's winner, Kathryn Markey Milton Student Named Vermont's Junior Miss getting rid of me from the office is necessary to do that." The report claimed top state police officials did not respond properly to the allegations of trooper misconduct at the St. Johnsbury barracks. It was released on the final day of outgoing Attorney General M.

Jerome Diamond's term, sparking charges- that it was politically motivated. Sen. Thomas Crowley, D-Chit-tenden, and Essex County State's Attorney Sten Lium do not think the report has been handled properly. Crowley said he may ask the Legislature to investigate. Lium wants the Vermont State's Attorneys Association to ask for a special prosecuter to investigate the charges contained.

in the report. make this office appear a lot more inefficient than I' think it really is." Wolchik said he has told local police officers they "will be responsible for serving subpoenas and preparing witnesses, State statute provides for a staff investigator in seven of the state's counties. Lamoille and. Franklin counties are assigned the extra position at the discretion of the public safety commissioner. "The decision (on the assigned investigator) is made according to statistical need," Wolchik said.

"But statistics can be subjective. My figures show we need that position as much as anybody else." Wolchik is attempting to arrange a meeting with area legislators this week to discuss alternatives and a possible amendment to the state statute so that it would include Lamoille County. He said a second alternative might be to hire a paralegal who could perform some of the trooper's duties at a significantly reduced cost. 4 i 0 AiS By SALLY JACOBS Free Press Correspondent HYDE PARK Loss of the single investigator in the Lamoille County state's attorney office will bottleneck the judicial system and severely limit its efficiency. State's Attorney Joseph Wolchik said last week.

The advantage to the state in reassignment of State Trooper Allen Hills, proposed by Public Safety Commissioner Paul Philbrook, will be "far outweighed by the disadvantage to the county," Wolchik said. His three-person office "is already laid out flat with work." he said. Wolchik said he learned of the change, scheduled for next month, when he assumed his position several months ago. Calling the trooper transfer "a very bad idea," Wolchik said he is seeking ways to compensate for the loss. "It's certainly going to slow down the system a lot," he said.

"What may happen is that I'll go into court thinking I'm prepared for a case but find out that I'm not. It's going to Deborah L. Donlan of Milton was crowned Vermont's 1981 Junior Miss Sunday, moments after being voted Spirit of Junior Miss by the 37 other contestants, all high school seniors. She succeeds Kathryn Markey of South Burlington, Vermont's 1980 Junior Miss. The Milton High School student was awarded $1,500 plus an expense-paid trip to Mobile, for a shot at the national title in July.

She was also offered a $10,000, four-year scholarship from St. Michael's College, where the pag eant was held. Miss Donlan, who said she would like to attend Keene State College, is a member of the National Honor Society, band and chorus and vice president of the student council. For the creative and performing arts presentation she sang a song she had written. Beth Chamberlin of Danville was first runner-up in the statewide competition; Kimberly Wilde of Guilford, second; Lorrie Glosick of Burlington, third; and Janice Butler ofjWindsor, fourth runner-up.

They Turn to MILTON, Page 2B McNeil Mansion Restoration To Be Presented to Planners mi 1 1 ml Ii A a By JODIE PECK Free Press Staff Writer CHARLOTTE A proposal to restore the historic McNeil Mansion and inn and convert it to a private club will be presented to the Planning Commission and the Zoning Board Tuesday by Montpelier designers Richard Lear and Thomas Ickovic. Jhe meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the town clerk's office. Lear said it is a preliminary meeting and the team hopes to "get the reaction of the townspeople." No decision is expected. The private club would include swimming, boating, tennis and a sports facility in the estate's barn complex.

A dining area would be built in the inn and overnight lodging in the mansion. Lear expects the club would be open eight months, and possibly during the winter if there is sufficient demand. The estate was built in 1800 and Lear plans to have it placed on the National Historic Register. The only changes to the buildings would be "an accurate historical renovation," the designer said. He said the cost of the work is being calculated.

"We see this as a viable use for the estate. If it goes into private hands, an individual would not be able to restore it," Lear said. "As a club, it can be restored and maintained." Membership would be cut off at 150 and dues would be "reasonable," he said. "We've had good response from a lot of people and some negative response from neighbors who are concerned," Lear' said. "That's why we're having so many meetings in the preliminary phase.

We're trying to educate people as to what we intend to do." The estate, on McNeil's Cove of Lake Champlain near the Charlotte-Essex ferry, was originally the home of the first owner of the ferry. The 39-acre estate includes more than 3,000 feet of shoreline, with a deep-water anchorage and a swimming cove. Lear said purchase of the property by himself and Ickovic depends on their obtaining the necessary approval of the project from the town's boards. If neighborhood reaction is overwhelmingly against the plan, the designers probably will withdraw their proposal, Lear said. Wit WLwil W-V" Free Press Photo by STU PERRY MCNEIL MANSION IS PART OF A 39-ACRE ESTATE ON LAKE CHAMPLIAN developers hope to turn the mansion into a private club.

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