MONTPELIER – Less than three months after being released on furlough, Daniel King, 40, broke into a house in Shady Pines Park in Westminster and was shot dead by the landlord.
On Jan. 19, Washington County Superior Court Judge Robert Mello issued an order reversing a Department of Corrections decision that revoked King’s furlough for one year, reducing it to six months.
“Although he had a significant criminal record, his record was not materially different from that of others for whom the DOC imposed layoffs of six months or less in similar circumstances,” Mello wrote in the ruling. . “The court therefore finds that the DOC abused its discretion in imposing a longer than six-month suspension in this matter.”
The DOC had issued a one-year suspension, an order that sent King back to jail for violating his furlough, in May 2021 after he left his registered address in Wallingford and was nowhere to be found for 11 days.
“This Court has heard nearly twenty of these … appeals, several of which involved fleeing discharged employees,” Mello wrote. “These cases reveal that in the absence of aggravating circumstances, when a fired man absconds for the first time, the DOC typically re-incarcerated the fired man for a short period of time, typically six months or less, and then returns the fired man to the community on leave. surveillance.”
Historically, Mello wrote, a one-year hiatus had been instituted for furloughed individuals who ran away a second time, committed a new criminal offense, or relapsed from substance abuse and refused to engage in addiction services.
“Here was King’s first time running away from furlough, and he was only missing for eleven days,” Mello wrote. He had been on successful leave for four months, during which time he had remained in contact with his senior leave officer, reconnected with his 18-year-old son, maintained paid employment, committed no new crimes, and had no used any illegal drugs. ”
On March 14, King kicked down a gate in Shady Pines Park while shouting “ATF, get out there hands up.”
Owner Nathaniel Keefe shot King soon after.
King was taken to Dartmouth Hitchcock Memorial Hospital for treatment. After being released, King was taken back into custody. On April 7, King pleaded not guilty to charges of burglary at an occupied dwelling armed with a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to detention without bail.
It is unclear why King and Jacquelyn Fougere, 29, of Springfield, who was accompanying him, broke into the mobile home, although Keefe told police he had several grams of cannabis oil at the house. him.
According to court documents, text messages from phones taken from King and Fougere, the pair planned to steal Keefe’s “money and proceeds”.
In her decision, Mello noted that King’s six-month furlough should have ended on December 1.
“Therefore, the DOC is ordered to discharge the Appellant back to the community on leave at the earliest opportunity,” Mello wrote, in the order issued Jan. 19.
King has a criminal record dating back to 1999, including 10 felonies and three misdemeanors and is currently serving a three-and-a-half to 10-year sentence imposed in 2018 for burglary, accessory to burglary and possession of stolen property.
Its minimum release date was March 9, 2021 and its maximum release date was set to September 9, 2027.
He also has a history of drug, crack and heroin addiction, Mello noted.
King claimed he had been sober since August 2017.
He was furloughed in January 2021 and assigned to live in Wallingford and work at a kennel there.
He was also required to “remain accessible to his supervising officer by phone and email at all times” and not leave the state of Vermont without permission from his supervising officer.
On May 24, 2021, his parole officer was informed that King had left and had not returned. It took the officer 11 days to locate him at a friend’s house in Keene, NH
Once back in custody, King was sentenced to a year in prison.
During his appeal of the DOC’s decision, King maintained that he had not relapsed into substance abuse and had not committed any other crimes. King also said the kennel owner took his phone and tried to poison him.
“The Court agrees with DOC that King’s outlandish version of events lacks credibility,” Mello wrote. “It is highly unlikely, to say the least, that a senior officer on leave would need leave to continue living with someone who was trying to poison him.”
Nonetheless, writes Mello, a one-year hiatus was an abuse of power by the Department of Corrections.
Windham County State’s Attorney Tracy Shriver had no comment on whether Fougere would be charged for his part in the home invasion.