Local & Regional Briefs for Wednesday, April 16

Man Rescued from Black River In Springfield, Vt.

Springfield, Vt. — A man was rescued from the Black River Tuesday morning.

Springfield Fire Chief Russ Thompson said the man, who was not identified, went in the water around 7 a.m. and was unable to return because of the swift current. He ended up perched on a boulder about 70 feet from shore.

The Swift Water Rescue team of Southern Vermont, led by Hartford, arrived on the scene and with assistance from Springfield and other departments, was able to run a “high line” across the river to the rock.

Using a rescue boat and with the line anchored on both ends, rescue personnel were able to safely bring the man ashore.

Thompson said he was taken to the hospital, but appeared to be in good condition as he was able to climb up the bank with some assistance.

It was not clear why the man ventured into the river, which is running swiftly.

Authorities Agree Vt. Man Was Insane During Hotel Killing

North Haverhill (ap) — A Vermont man was insane when he stabbed a stranger to death last year in the lobby of a New Hampshire hotel, the state and his defense lawyer have agreed.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Susan Morrell said Tuesday that the state agrees Rodney Hill, of West Danville, Vt., was insane on Jan. 28, 2013, when he attacked 70-year-old Catherine Houghton, of San Francisco, at the Hampton Inn in Littleton, N.H.

Hill, 38, told police he believed he was Jesus and that Houghton was the devil or his father out to hurt his family. Houghton, a 1960 graduate and member of the board of trustees of the White Mountain School in Bethlehem, was in town for board meetings.

Hill also said he was going through a divorce and was angry at an email he had gotten from his boss when he punched and stabbed Houghton. A self-employed welder who also recently worked at the Ryegate Power Station, Hill also said he was taking an anti-psychotic medication used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar depression.

Prosecutors said the attack appeared to have been random.

His lawyer, Mark Sisti, recently submitted a notice of intent to plead not guilty by reason of insanity and Morrell said the state will agree. Hill in November had been ruled competent to stand trial.

“If we went to trial, we’d be litigating the issue of whether he was or was not insane,” Morrell said. “Here, we have evidence that we believe establishes clearly that Mr. Hill’s conduct was the product of mental illness.”

As part of the agreement, Hill acknowledges that he is a danger to himself and others.

If a judge approves the agreement, Hill will formally enter the plea on June 19.

He’ll be sent to the secure psychiatric ward at the New Hampshire State Prison and his status will be reviewed every five years.

That means he could be released in as little as five years or be kept longer if a judge determines he remains dangerous.

Morrell said Houghton’s family would be kept up to date about any future hearings.

Sisti did not immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday.

Vermont Lawmakers Pass Food Labeling Bill

Montpelier (ap) — The Vermont Senate passed a bill that would require labels to identify genetically modified food ingredients, starting in 2016.

The Tuesday vote was 26 to 2.

The bill still needs approval from the Vermont House. The house previously passed a slightly different version of a food labeling bill.

Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell said people have a right to know what’s in their food. Campbell, D-Quechee, said the Senate has done its best to ensure the bill will be legally defensible.

Connecticut and Maine have passed labeling laws but delayed implementation.

Vermont would be the first state to enact labeling and it is believed that food manufacturers might sue the state.

— Staff and wire reports