BURLINGTON, Vt. (WFFF/WVNY) – Steven Bourgoin will spend at least the next 30 years in prison
Bourgoin, 38, was convicted in May of five counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Mary Harris, 16, of Moretown; Cyrus Zschau, 16, of Moretown; Liam Hale, 16, of Fayston; Janie Cozzi, 15, of Fayston; and Eli Brookens, 16, of Waterbury.
Defense attorneys argued at trial that Bourgoin was insane at the time of the crash. But the jury rejected that defense.
Calling the crimes “horrific” and worthy of significant time in prison, Chittenden County Superior Court Judge Kevin Griffin sentenced Bourgoin to 26 years to life on each of the five second-degree murder counts. The sentences will be served concurrently.
He also imposed a 4-to-5 year sentence on top of that for stealing a police cruiser after the initial crash and roaring back through scene at speeds of up to 100 mph, crashing a second time and injuring several others.
The sentence was handed down after hours of emotional testimony from the families of the teenagers. They said through his “selfish acts,” Bourgoin stole the teens’ lives from themselves, their parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and the community.
Liz Harris, the mother of victim Mary Harris, told Bourgoin there were no words to quantify what he took from her. One father said he must forgive Bourgoin so he can be like his own late daughter, who he described as having grace.
Bourgoin did not testify at his jury trial. On Monday, at the end of the sentencing hearing, he apologized.
Griffin said the sentence does not mean Bourgoin’s life is over and that he has “a lot to offer” others during his confinement. He also said the tragic case was not a failure of the state’s mental health system.
“There is no question in the court’s mind that you have experienced trauma, but there is every indication that you declined to get the help you needed,” he said.
This story includes information reported by the Associated Press.