Caraballo faces Sept. murder trial in Vermont

RUTLAND -- A federal judge has scheduled a three-week trial in September for a Massachusetts man accused of killing a woman as part of a drug deal in southern Vermont.

U.S. District Judge Christina Reiss has scheduled trial dates from Sept. 9 to Sept. 27 for 31-year-old Frank Caraballo, of Holyoke, Mass.

Caraballo stands accused of killing Melissa Barratt on July, 29, 2011, and leaving her body on East West Road in Dummerston.

According to documents filed in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division, prior to Barratt's death, Caraballo accused Barratt of stealing drugs from him. A friend of Barratt's told police she and Barratt were held at gunpoint while Caraballo awaited instructions from a woman he referred to as "the boss" as to whether he was going to kill them. Following a phone call, Caraballo forced Barratt at gunpoint into a vehicle that was driven by Joshua Makhanda-Lopez.

State charges against Caraballo were dropped after the federal government took over the case. He has been indicted on four counts related to Barratt's death -- one for being a felon in possession of firearms, one for using a Desert Eagle .357 in furtherance of a conspiracy to distribute 280 grams or more of crack cocaine, a third for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and a fourth for killing Barratt. During a hearing in Rutland in February, Caraballo's defense attorneys confirmed that no alleged murder weapon had been recovered by law enforcement agencies.

Caraballo is currently serving 16 years in prison after he pleaded guilty in September 2012 to distributing crack cocaine.


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