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Teens Charged With Roles in Vt. Shooting

White River Junction — Two Windsor County teenagers pleaded not guilty Friday to felony charges in connection with a shooting in Springfield, Vt., earlier this month that left a convicted drug dealer hospitalized following what authorities have said was a dispute over drug money.

One teen is charged with beating the victim, Joseph Atkinson, and the other allegedly supplied the gun that was used in the shooting, according to court documents.

Windsor Superior Court Judge Karen Carroll ordered both Brandon Adams-Smith, 16, of Chester, and Alex Jillson-Corbosiero, 18, of Springfield, released without requiring bail following their arraignment.

Authorities allege that Adams-Smith was part of a trio of men who broke into a Summer Street apartment on June 11 and that he beat Joseph Atkinson with a baseball bat after the victim had already been shot by Leon Jiggetts, of Newark, N.J., according to a police affidavit.

Authorities said Jiggetts told Adams-Smith to hit Atkinson after he had been shot. The teen told police he wanted to “confront Atkinson about spreading rumors about him stealing money from drug deals.”

Atkinson, who is from Union City, N.J., had pleaded guilty in April to selling cocaine.

Jiggetts earlier this month pleaded not guilty to charges that he shot Atkinson, and is being held in jail. Jabbar Chandler, the third man who allegedly entered the apartment, separately pleaded not guilty to felony charges of trespassing and assault with a deadly weapon stemming from the altercation and is also being held in jail.

Adams-Smith was charged with two felonies — burglary and assault with a deadly weapon — and because he is being charged as an adult, could face a maximum of 41 years in prison if convicted.

The police affidavit alleged that Jillson-Corbosiero took from his stepfather the .45 caliber pistol that Jiggetts is accused of using to shoot Atkinson, who is now also facing drug charges in the incident.

Jillson-Corbosiero faces felony charges of aiding aggravated assault and aiding unlawful trespassing of an occupied dwelling. The police affidavit said Chandler “told him to get a gun” and that the teen told authorities he “took his stepfather’s .45 caliber (gun) from his mother’s bedroom” and then gave it to Jiggetts and Chandler. Jillson-Corbosiero also retrieved a backpack containing the .45 pistol and another .22 caliber weapon that had been dropped by Chandler after they left the scene, the affidavit said. Police said Jillson-Corbosiero later gave the bag to Chandler’s sister, Kathy.

Together with a misdemeanor larceny charge, Jillson-Corbosiero could face up to 16 years in prison if convicted, but there was little debate at his arraignment on Friday.

His attorney, Claude Buttrey, announced that the defense had reached an agreement with Deputy Windsor County State’s Attorney David Cahill allowing for Jillson-Corbosiero’s release. The deal forbade the defendant from making contact with anyone related to the case, banned him from owning or buying any weapons and confined him to his Springfield home with exceptions for work, school and medical or legal engagements.

Cahill asked for a $10,000 bail for Adams-Smith, who he said has struggled since early adolescence with truancy, homelessness and unemployment. Cahill also said that a social worker had told him the teen had been “stuck living the life of a 30-year-old in the body of a 16-year-old.”

Adams-Smith identified as a member of the “Satan’s Disciples” gang, and therefore was a flight risk, especially since he had no stable family ties in Vermont, Cahill said.

The defendant’s father, Jason Smith, sat behind him in the gallery, as did his aunt, Kimberlee Knight. Adams-Smith’s attorney, Mike Mace, asked Carroll to release him into Knight’s custody.

“If he can come home, I promise you he’s going to be OK there,” Knight told the judge in court.

Knight also said she was helping Adams-Smith find a job.

Cahill raised concerns that Knight would not hold her nephew to the conditions of his bail, which mirrored Jillson-Corbosiero’s.

Furthermore, Cahill argued, the Vermont Department for Children and Families wouldn’t be able to take control of the teen, because “the DCF social worker is no match for Leon Jiggetts,” he said.

Jiggetts was cited on June 22 with a felony obstruction of justice charge for allegedly trying to make contact from jail with a co-defendant in an attempt to change that person’s testimony, State Police said in a news release Thursday. The co-defendant was not named.

Carroll said that a risk of flight was of greater concern to her regarding Adams-Smith than non-adherence to the bail conditions. Because Adams-Smith had cooperated with police during their investigation after the shooting, he was not a flight risk, the judge said. She then ordered Adams-Smith released into his aunt’s custody.

Jiggetts is due in court on July 22 regarding the obstruction charge.

Atkinson, who was shot in the torso, was recently transported to a rehabilitation center in New Jersey for medical care. Authorities this week said Atkinson was issued a citation to appear in the White River Junction court on Aug. 12 on a felony charge of heroin possession and a misdemeanor cocaine possession charge. State Police in the news release this week said he was found in possession of the drugs after he had been shot.

Rob Wolfe can be reached at rwolfe@vnews.com or 603-727-3242.