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Man reaches plea deal, sentenced 11 years after fatal shooting in Chester, Vt.

  • Court officer Joe Porreca swears in Kyle Bolaski, center, of Springfield, Vt., for his change of plea and sentencing at Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction, Vt., on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2019. With Bolaski are his attorneys Dan Sedon, left, and Brian Marsicovetere. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

  • After giving his victim's impact statement, Vincent Tamburello Sr. is reassured by a supporter at Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction, Vt., on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2019. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

  • Rachel Bolaski, who recently married Kyle Bolaski, speaks about her husband's sentencing and their relationship following his hearing at Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction, Vt., on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2019. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/9/2020 6:11:30 PM
Modified: 1/9/2020 9:46:01 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — It’s been almost 11½ years since Kyle Bolaski fired the shot that left Vincent Tamburello bleeding to death on a Chester, Vt., softball field in 2008.

More than a decade of court appearances, some time in an out-of-state prison, different judges, amended charges and waiting.

And on Thursday afternoon, it all came to an end.

Bolaski, 36, of Springfield, Vt., appeared in Windsor Superior Court on Thursday, supported by family members and friends, to plead guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter for the slaying. Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Mann sentenced Bolaski in accordance with the plea deal to seven to 15 years in prison for the crime, though she called it an “imperfect result” for the families of both Bolaski and Tamburello.

“For the Tamburello family, the sentence falls short,” Mann said in court Thursday, adding that there’s no sentence she could impose that would lessen the family’s grief. Bolaski already has served 3½ years in prison, much of it in Kentucky, which is credited toward his upcoming sentence, meaning he could spend as little as 3½ more years behind bars.

The judge also expressed sympathy for Bolaski and his family, saying that it looks like he has “matured significantly” since the incident.

“The court would like to think that what has emerged is the unveiling of his true character,” she said.

Tamburello’s parents, who attended the hearing Thursday, later called the sentence unjust and unfair.

Dressed in a button-down white shirt and khakis, Bolaski stood to address the court Thursday, apologizing to Tamburello’s family and saying that he was just trying to “disable a threat” when he fired the gun.

“There was an intense level of fear and anxiety that I had never experienced until that day,” he said.

Bolaski, then 24, was with a group of friends who had been sparring with the 32-year-old Tamburello, a Boston resident who had been living in the Springfield, Vt., area and had several run-ins with police in Vermont before the Aug. 17, 2008, shooting. Tamburello, who a toxicology report later revealed had several drugs in his system, started chasing Bolaski with a splitting maul.

Bolaski grabbed a .30-06 rifle from his truck and shot Tamburello in the leg. But he also fired a second shot, hitting Tamburello in the buttocks and striking his femoral artery, causing him to bleed to death.

“The first shot may have been justified but the second shot certainly wasn’t,” said Windsor County State’s Attorney David Cahill, who read out the accusations against Bolaski on Thursday.

However, he asserted that prosecutors don’t believe Bolaski meant to kill Tamburello.

“Neither of them planned to use lethal force,” Cahill said. “This was a horrible miscalculation.”

Brian Marsicovetere, an attorney representing Bolaski, agreed that his client did not mean to kill Tamburello, and said he was provoked into action in a moment of panic and stress.

Tamburello’s father, Vincent Tamburello Sr., who spoke at the sentencing Thursday, painted a different picture of the crime than both attorneys, claiming that Bolaski pursued his son as he was trying to flee the scene after the first shot.

“He wanted to kill Vinnie,” Tamburello Sr. said in court Thursday. He added that seven years is not enough to bring justice to his son’s death. “Kyle murdered my entire family. … The impacts of Kyle’s actions will last forever,” he said in court.

Tamburello Sr. also said he plans to attend every parole hearing for Bolaski to ensure he’s not released until he serves the maximum sentence.

“My only goal now is to keep him in there as long as I can,” he said.

The case has taken a number of turns over the past 11 years since it began.

In November 2008, the grand jury returned an indictment charging Bolaski with a sole count of aggravated assault for the shooting, according to a sentencing memorandum filed by Marsicovetere. But Tamburello’s family pressed for a murder charge, and in 2010 the charges were amended to second-degree murder and aggravated assault for the shooting.

The case went to trial in 2011 and Bolaski was convicted of second-degree murder and given a sentence of 25 years to life.

But the Vermont Supreme Court overturned his conviction, and Bolaski was released from prison in June 2014; he remained free on bail until Thursday’s sentencing.

Bolaski’s wife, Rachel Bolaski, who married him on Christmas Eve, said the couple has long been preparing for this sentence, making lists about how she can care for their adopted dog, and how she should take over his fishing business. She said her husband took the plea deal to ease their family’s burden after a decade in the legal system.

“He said, ‘I’m getting older and I’m tired,’ ” Rachel Bolaski said outside of the courtroom. “He did this for us. He did this for his family.”

Anna Merriman can be reached at or at 603-727-3216.

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