By Brent Curtis
When prosecutors allowed a Rutland man to continue to drive after charging him with causing a fatal hit-and-run crash, they took a different route than prosecutors in some other cases.
After Christopher Sullivan pleaded innocent Thursday to charges of leaving the scene of a fatal crash, assistant attorney generals involved in the case asked the judge to impose a $10,000 unsecured appearance bond. They also obtained a condition barring the former City Hall legal counsel from drinking or possessing alcohol, as well as a condition that he allow police to administer random breath tests at his home.
But absent from the list of court-ordered conditions common for serious vehicular offenses was condition 7, which reads “You cannot drive any motor vehicle including a car, truck or motorcycle.”
That condition can be found in a number of vehicular homicides in RutlandCounty, including the case against Alex W. Spanos, who is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Carly Ferro.
In a 2007 hit-and-run case against Brent V. Poczobut, a Fair Haven man charged with gross negligent operation, fatality resulting, and leaving the scene of a fatal crash in the death of Paul Delorenzi, county prosecutors asked for and received a condition 7.
In the 1995 case against Tammy Davis, charged and later convicted of careless and negligent operation in a Fair Haven crash that killed Alden “Jaime” Atwood, 21, of Fair Haven, the no-driving condition was imposed.
The condition was also asked for and granted in a nonfatal crash in 2007 that seriously injured a motorcyclist Scott Allen, who was struck from behind by Ashlee Ellis.
Ellis, who said she was distracted by a dog in the car with her when the crash took place, was eventually acquitted of a felony charge of grossly negligent operation of a motor vehicle, but found guilty of a misdemeanor negligence charge.
More recently, the condition was imposed in a Windsor County case against Joshua Ouimette, 26, of Rutland, who has pleaded innocent to two counts of grossly negligent operation with death resulting. Ouimette was one of the drivers in a head-on crash on Route 4 in Bridgewater in January 2004.
In a case that didn’t involve a crash or injuries last month, Annika Green, a former lawyer who worked for the state Department of Public Safety, was ordered by a WashingtonCounty criminal court judge not to drive after her arraignment this week on a misdemeanor charge of drinking and driving, first offense.
But in the case against Sullivan, accused of driving drunk when he ran down 71-year-old Jane Outslay last month, the condition doesn’t appear.
Assistant Attorney General Cindy Maguire declined to discuss the reason for the lack of a condition 7 while talking with the media outside the Rutland criminal courthouse Thursday. Neither Maguire nor Attorney General William Sorrell could be reached Friday afternoon.
Defense attorneys said the absence of a driving prohibition in vehicular homicides isn’t unusual.
David Sleigh, a St. Johnsbury attorney who has defended many drunken driving and vehicular homicide cases, said his present caseload includes six motor vehicle cases involving the death of another person. Four of those clients are prohibited from driving, he said. The other two are not.
“It’s a combination of deviations from the standards of care that go into those decisions,” he said. “Certainly alcohol is an aggravating factor.”
But Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan said that in vehicular homicide and drunken driving offenses he handles, requests for the driving prohibition are common.
“I think it’s a typical condition request in these types of cases,” he said. “You don’t want people engaging in the type of conduct they’re charged with.”