MONTPELIER — The Vermont Supreme Court has ruled that an Essex woman charged in connection with a stabbing in St. Albans Town will not be put on house arrest while awaiting trial.
The ruling, issued Wednesday, is in response to an appeal filed by 23-year-old Alexis Lesage, who is being held at Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility on $100,000 bail on charges of second-degree attempted murder and simple assault in Franklin County Superior Court. According to an affidavit filed in the case, Lesage and co-defendent Malachi Buswel, 37, were arrested in Dekalb County, Indiana, with a stolen car and methamphetamine after the pair apparently fled Vermont.
According to the affidavit, officers were called to the scene of a stabbing at a boat launch on Hathaway Point Road on Sept. 12. The driver of the car was stabbed in the chest and arm, and had cuts on his hands from self-defense, according to the affidavit.
According to the victim and two witnesses, a woman opened the driver’s door of the vehicle and began yelling at him. A man then approached and stabbed the victim as he sat in the vehicle. The man also reportedly pointed a gun at the victim.
After Lesage requested in December that she be placed on house arrest, the court on Feb. 17 denied the motion, stating that among other issues, the stabbing “appeared to be an act of random violence,” and Lesage “posed a significant flight risk.”
Lesage proposed home detention at her mother’s house, according to the ruling. In her appeal to the Supreme Court, Lesage’s allegations include that the court improperly relied on attachments to the state Department of Corrections (DOC) home detention investigation report when it hadn’t been admitted into evidence, and that the court improperly relied on hearsay in the report.
DOC home detention report
In its ruling, the Supreme Court notes Lesage “failed to raise her objections to the report and its attachments at the home-detention hearing,” and she did not indicate that she wasn’t able to review it prior to the hearing.
The DOC investigator testified that, because of COVID-19 restrictions, he couldn’t visit the mother’s home to ensure there were no firearms or alcohol, according to the ruling. The report also cited concerns from the Department for Children and Families (DCF).
The ruling states that the legislature has determined rules of evidence do not apply in hearings under state law that concern bail and conditions of release. While the subsection of that law concerning home-detention proceedings “is silent” on whether rules of evidence apply, “it would be inconsistent to conclude that one proceeding must follow the rules of evidence while the other need not,” and so the court did not err by relying on the report and attachments, the ruling states.
The DOC report included two DCF incident reports. The first included alleged threats of violence made by Lesage toward the foster parents of one of her children, and toward her former partner. The second alleged that Lesage told another person she would “kill her DCF caseworker in a manner similar to the murder of a DCF worker in Barre by a mother who lost custody of her child.”
The report alleged that Lesage had purchased a .40 caliber handgun at the time.
While the trial court established a factual basis for the first DCF report, according to the ruling, the same could not be said for the second report. The allegations leading to that report stem from claims made by an ex-boyfriend of the defendant in DOC custody, who also claimed Lesage filed a false report against him, the ruling states. The man alleged he had recordings of Lesage making these threats, but the recordings never surfaced, according to the ruling.
The Supreme Court ruled that even if the second incident report wasn’t credible, “considering the totality of the court’s findings that were predicated on properly considered evidence, we cannot conclude that defendant was prejudiced.”