Home confinement for now in ’08 shooting

  • Kyle Bolaski listens to testimony from a toxicologist on the second day of a motion hearing to admit evidence at his new trial about the shooting victim's mental health on Wednesday, June 28, 2017, in White River Junction, Vt. (Valley News - Jovelle Tamayo) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jovelle Tamayo

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/26/2020 8:47:43 PM
Modified: 5/26/2020 8:47:41 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — A 36-year-old Windsor County man who is serving 7 to 15 years in prison for a 2008 fatal shooting will be released to home confinement for the next six months over concerns surrounding COVID-19.

At a hearing Tuesday, Windsor Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Mann ruled that Kyle Bolaski may return to his home in Springfield, Vt., with his wife and parents for six months.

The order was the result of a deal struck this month between attorney Dan Sedon, who represents Bolaski, and former Windsor County State’s Attorney David Cahill, who returned to oversee Tuesday’s hearing.

As part of the deal, Bolaski agreed to stay at home unless going to a doctor or dentist appointment, to return to prison once the six months are up, and to not file any further appeals of his conviction.

“I’ve given this a great deal of consideration and I find it a very challenging issue,” Mann said during the hearing, adding that there’s no evidence suggesting Bolaski is protected from catching the virus in prison.

Bolaski pleaded guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter in January for the shooting that happened more than a decade earlier at a ball field in Chester, Vt. Police have said Vincent Tamburello, 32, chased Bolaski with a splitting maul and that Bolaski shot him twice with a rifle he’d grabbed from his truck, killing him.

Two months after his plea and sentencing, Bolaski filed a 12-page motion from prison, urging the judge to reconsider his sentence.

In the motion he called Tamburello an “axe-wielding maniac” and claimed that he had shot Tamburello in self-defense.

He also claimed he had been “bullied into” taking the plea deal by prosecutors and his defense attorneys.

At the end of his motion, Bolaski wrote that he should be with his family during the outbreak of COVID-19.

“It is only a matter of time before this virus makes its way to Vermont’s prison system and spreads like wildfire in these tight-knit living quarters,” Bolaski wrote.

Mann denied his motion, writing in an April 23 order that there was no evidence to support Bolaski’s claim he was forced to take a plea deal, and that his sentence was standard for manslaughter cases.

But a week after her ruling, Sedon and Cahill reached an agreement to recommend that Bolaski be released for six months of home confinement, according to the document, filed May 1.

“At the time of his plea and sentencing, there were news reports about the emerging COVID-19 epidemic in China, but almost no public information that it would become a national epidemic,” the attorneys wrote in the agreement.

They added that had they known the scope of the COVID-19 outbreak in January, they would have included the six-month home confinement section in the plea deal.

As part of the agreement, Bolaski may not file any further motions to reconsider his sentence, and may not appeal Mann’s April ruling on his motion.

Jill Barker, an attorney for Tamburello’s family, spoke during Tuesday’s hearing, calling the agreement “another attempt to continue (Bolaski’s) litigation.”

She argued that the risk of catching COVID-19 has “basically dissipated in the state of Vermont” and that it hasn’t significantly affected prisons.

But Sedon argued that releasing Bolaski for a period of time would be beneficial to inmates as a whole, because it would help “reduce the prison population” amid the virus.

Before his January plea deal, Bolaski already had served 3½ years in prison, much of it in Kentucky, meaning he could be out of prison altogether in little more than three years.

Anna Merriman can be reached at amerriman@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.

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