Crime News

State’s Attorney Vekos cited for drunk driving

Addison County State’s Attorney Eva Vekos, shown at a Middlebury selectboard meeting in October, is scheduled to answer a charge of driving under the influence – test refusal in court next month.

UPDATED: This story was updated on Jan. 31 to include comments from Vekos’s attorney, David Sleigh, who spoke with Independent Senior Reporter John Flowers.

BRIDPORT — Addison County’s top prosecutor was arrested for suspicion of driving while under the influence Thursday evening after she showed up at the scene of a suspicious death in Bridport, officials said.

State police had asked State’s Attorney Eva Vekos if she wanted to take a walk through the crime scene on Swinton Road where a 44-year-old man was found dead on Wednesday morning, officials said. State Police Crime Scene Search Team members were wrapping up their site work, and police normally ask the local prosecutor if they want to observe the scene in case there are decisions to be made, including criminal charges.

Vekos, 54, of Middlebury arrived about 8:50 Thursday night and troopers detected the odor of intoxicants and saw indicators of impairment such as slurred speech, Patrol Sgt. Eden Neary reported.

Vekos refused to undergo standardized field sobriety tests at the scene and was placed under arrest for DUI – refusal, Neary said.

Troopers transported Vekos to the state police barracks in New Haven, where she was processed and later released to a friend, police said. Police said they issued Vekos a citation ordering her to appear for arraignment in Vermont Superior Court in Middlebury on Feb. 12.

Vekos also refused to cooperate with being fingerprinted and photographed for her mugshot while at the state police barracks, Neary said.

It was not immediately clear who will be prosecuting Vekos in the DUI case.

State Police Detective Lt. Chris Barber said it is standard procedure when there is a potential conflict of interest in a case that another state’s attorney from a nearby county is asked to handle the prosecution.

State police from the New Haven barracks had been called to the home of Stephen Nuciolo Sr., 44, of Bridport shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday, after troopers received a report that he had died overnight inside the residence.

Nuciolo’s body was eventually transported to the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Burlington and a preliminary report on Thursday showed the death appeared suspicious, police said. State police returned to the scene on Thursday for more investigation and were wrapping up when Vekos arrived at the trailer.

In a news release state police said preliminary investigative work indicated the suspicious death was an isolated event, but did not explain that theory.

Police also said they believed there is no known threat to the community, but did not explain that belief.

When asked by the Independent on Friday morning about the DUI charge, Vekos declined to comment.

Vekos is being represented by St. Johnsbury attorney David Sleigh. During a phone interview on Wednesday with the Independent, Sleigh took particular issue with the alleged DUI-refusal offense.

“It is a crime to refuse a reasonable request for an evidentiary breath alcohol test — if you have a prior DWI conviction,” he said. “If you don’t have a prior DWI conviction, the Vermont Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear that the operators have a choice whether to submit a sample for testing, or not.

“There’s nothing criminal about refusing to take a test. There are potential sanctions, such as license suspension, if a judge finds the officer’s request for the test was reasonable. And in order to support that, they have to show they had some articulable suspicion — supported by facts — that Eva had violated the drunk driving statute.”

SOME BACKGROUND ON THE PROSECUTOR

Vekos, a Democrat, was elected in November 2022 and took over the following month when the interim state’s attorney stepped down early to take another job in Rutland. Since being sworn in, her office has seen several serious cases, including at least three reported homicides in four months last year.

Hussein Mohamed, 14, of Burlington has been charged as an adult with second degree murder, manslaughter and aggravated assault in the death of Madden Gouveia, 14, of Shelburne following a shooting in Bristol on Oct. 30. Mohamed, who has denied the charges, is being prosecuted under a law approved during a special session of the Vermont Legislature in 1981 designed to hold young teens accountable for 12 of the most serious crimes.

In a second case, Michelle Kilbreth, 48, was fatally shot after she got into an argument with another woman outside her home on McKnight Lane in Waltham on Sept. 15, 2023, police said. A neighborhood boy picked up the handgun and fired multiple shots killing Kilbreath, officials said. No charges have been filed in adult court against the juvenile, who is believed to be around 12 years old. It is unknown if juvenile proceedings were implemented in Family Court, which is confidential.

In the third homicide, Zaquikon T. Roy, 35, who has lived in Rutland and St. Albans, has been charged in federal court in connection with a double shooting of two brothers on Route 7 in Leicester in June 2023 after a drug deal went bad when Roy shorted his buyers, officials said.

One man, Scott Lanpher, 35, of Leicester died and his brother, Larry Lanpher Jr., 31, of Leicester was seriously wounded. Roy, who was originally from Brooklyn, was initially charged in state court with second-degree murder, manslaughter, attempted second degree murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm after being convicted of a violent crime, court records show. The state dropped those in favor of the federal prosecution after he was caught in Lewiston, Maine in August 2023.

Independent reporter John Flowers contributed to this report.

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