Georgia shooter out on bail

Judge cites Gratton's lack of criminal history

By Tom Benton

Staff Writer

Just
The Facts

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ST. ALBANS — The man allegedly responsible for an early January shooting in Georgia has been released on bail.

Ethan Gratton, 27, faces one charge of second-degree murder and another of attempted second-degree murder for the Jan. 4 shooting, which took the life of David Hill and left Mark Brito seriously wounded.

He has been released on several conditions, prohibiting him from using or possessing regulated drugs, alcohol and firearms or deadly weapons, as well as from any contact with Brito.

Gratton’s mother posted the required 10 percent of his $100,000 bail immediately after Franklin County Superior Court Judge A. Gregory Rainville issued the court’s bail decision on Monday.

The decision followed a late January court hearing at which Gratton’s defense attorneys, Steve Dunham and Rosanna Chase, argued in favor of his release, supported by the testimony of Gratton’s family members. State prosecutor James Hughes argued against Gratton’s release.

The court’s decision boiled down to the strength of the State’s evidence against Gratton, which Rainville determined was not great. According to Vermont statutes cited in the court’s decision, “If the evidence of guilt is not great, the person shall be bailable.”

Rainville wrote that evidence strongly supported the allegations that Gratton shot Hill and Brito, specifically the recorded 911 call in which Gratton can be heard admitting he did so. But there is also convincing evidence one or both men assaulted Gratton prior to the shooting, Rainville noted.

“This fact raises issues both as to whether the Defendant was able to form the requisite intent and to the lawfulness of Defendant’s actions,” the court decision says. Evidence of diminished mental capacity can negate proof of intent.

The decision concludes that “weighing the evidence of provocation and diminished capacity against the circumstantial evidence supporting a finding of intent, the Court finds that the evidence, even when viewed in the light most favorable to the State, is not substantial and far from what would be necessary to convince a fact-finder beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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  • johnlb

    Vermont the catch and release state.

    • RobertA

      The other 49 states also use similar bail practices