On Issue Of Bail, Vt. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Jack Sawyer

Apr 11, 2018

An 18-year-old Poultney man, accused of plotting a thwarted school shooting earlier this year, cannot be held without bail, according to a decision by the Vermont Supreme Court Wednesday.

18-year-old Jack Sawyer, of Poultney, enters Rutland Superior Court in March.
Credit Glenn Russell / Burlington Free Press / Pool

Jack Sawyer appealed a Rutland Superior Court decision made in March to hold him without bail after he was arrested in February on charges of attempted aggravated murder, attempted first-degree murder and attempted aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Sawyer has pleaded "not guilty" to the charges.

According to the opinion published by the court, "[t]he sole question before this Court is whether the evidence of guilt is great that defendant attempted to commit any of the four charged crimes given the definition of 'attempt' under Vermont law."

Read the Vermont Supreme Court's decision

The law which allowed the court to hold Sawyer without bail, according to the court, requires both that the crimes the individual is charged with carry a penalty of "death" or life in prison, and "when the evidence of guilt is great."

Prosecutors in the case have expressed opposition to the idea of Sawyer being released on bail.

"An 'attempt' under Vermont law requires an intent to commit a crime, coupled with an act that, but for an interruption, would result in the completion of a crime." — Vermont Supreme Court decision

But the three-judge-panel that weighed in on the decision — Associate Justices Beth Robinson, Harold E. Eaton, Jr. and Karen R. Carroll — ruled that the prosecutors had not provided "'evidence of guilt is great' such that defendant may be presumed incarcerated rather than released prior to trial."

As of publication Wednesday evening, there has been no word on if or when a bail hearing for Sawyer will be scheduled.