Jack Sawyer attorneys to appeal bail decision
FAIR HAVEN — A Rutland judge Wednesday morning vacated an order he issued a day earlier on whether four felony charges, including attempted aggravated murder, should stand in the case of Jack Sawyer, accused of planning to shoot up Fair Haven high school.
Also, Sawyer’s attorneys said Wednesday morning they plan to appeal a ruling made Tuesday by Judge Thomas Zonay setting $100,000 bail in the case.
Zonay on Tuesday denied a motion by Sawyer’s attorneys to dismiss the four felony charges for lack of probable cause.
On Wednesday morning, the judge issued an order vacating that order.
“Upon further review of the motion the Court concludes that the issues raised in the motion warrant a hearing for further development, analysis, and consideration prior to determination of the motion,” the judge wrote.
“Accordingly, the Entry Order dated April 16, 2018, re-affirming the prior probable cause determination and denying dismissal is hereby VACATED,” he wrote.
The judge gave prosecutors under April 23 to file a response on the issue, according to the judge.
“The Clerk shall schedule the motion for a hearing promptly,” Zonay added in the short one-page order.
Sawyer’s attorneys earlier this week filed a motion seeking to have the judge review probable cause on the four felony charges against him in light of a Vermont Supreme Court ruling issued last week.
That ruling said Sawyer could no longer be held without bail on the felony charges, and that the four “attempted” charges filed against him did not rise to the level of an “attempted” crime under Vermont case law.
Defender General Matthew Valerio, whose office is defending Sawyer, said Zonay’s order issued Wednesday morning vacating his previous ruling means that the four felony charges remain in place pending the upcoming hearing.
After Zonay denied the motion to dismiss the charges for lack of probable cause on Tuesday, Valerio said he intended to appeal that matter to the Vermont Supreme Court as soon as possible.
However, now that the judge has vacated that order, the matter can’t be appealed until the judge makes a new determination after the next hearing, Valerio said.
In addition to the felony charges against Sawyer, two new misdemeanor charges were brought against Sawyer this week — criminal threatening and carrying a dangerous or deadly weapon, openly or concealed, with the intent or avowed purpose of causing harm.
Those charges carry a sentence of up to three years in prison, if he’s convicted.
Sawyer has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him. Zonay set bail at $100,000 in the case Tuesday afternoon following a hearing in which his father said he would seek to have Sawyer checked into a psychiatric facility upon his release.
Sawyer remained listed Wednesday morning as incarcerated at the Rutland jail, according to the state’s online offender locator.
Valerio said Wednesday morning that the defense intends to appeal that bail order. Lawyers representing Sawyer say there was no need for bail because of the plans to have him immediately begin inpatient treatment at the Brattleboro Retreat.
Zonay said he would reconsider the matter is a firm admission date were arranged with the treatment center.
Sawyer was arrested in mid-February after authorities say he had plans to cause “mass casualties” at Fair Haven Union High School. Police said they discovered a notebook from Sawyer, titled, “Journal of an Active Shooter,” which included plans he had for carrying out the shooting and a ”kill list” of students and staff.
They say that his purchase of a shotgun and ammunition in the days before his arrest showed that he intended to move forward with those plans.
The Vermont Supreme Court, in its ruling last week, said that under Vermont case law that has been standing for more than a century, merely planning or preparing for a crime did not meet the standard for an attempted offense.
The Supreme Court sent the case back to the trial court level in Rutland for further proceedings, leading to Tuesday’s hearing.
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