Vermont judge denies pretrial release for murder suspect who cited coronavirus fears

  • Frank Sanville, of South Royalton, Vt., walks into the courtroom before his arraignment on first-degree murder and four lesser charges at the Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction, Vt., on March 16, 2018. Sanville pleaded not guilty. (Valley News - Carly Geraci) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Carly Geraci

Published: 5/5/2020 7:59:27 PM
Modified: 5/5/2020 7:59:21 PM

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — A Vermont Superior Court judge on Tuesday denied a bid by a 73-year-old man accused of murder to be released from jail pending trial because of the threat to inmates posed by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Judge John Treadwell said Frank Sanville’s due process rights had not been violated by his continued detention and also wrote he was “not fully convinced” that Sanville would abide by conditions of release if granted.

Sanville, who is being held without bail at Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield, Vt., pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder in 2018 after police alleged he shot and killed Wanda Sanville, his estranged wife, in South Royalton. Prosecutors have said Sanville was out on furlough for a domestic violence charge against his wife at the time, and that he had been previously convicted of assaulting her.

In a three-day hearing in Windham Superior Court in Brattleboro last month, Sanville’s attorneys argued that his health was threatened by the new coronavirus, given its ability to spread in close quarters such as prisons.

But Treadwell denied the motion, noting the concern about Sanville’s flouting of prior conditions of release and also writing, in part: “The possibility that Defendant may contract COVID-19 in the facility does not constitute medical indifference. The record reflects the substantial steps the (Corrections) Department and its contracted healthcare provider have taken to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 infections occurring and to appropriately respond to COVID-19 positive or symptomatic patients.”

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