Vermont news in brief

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Guard acquitted of inmate sex charges

A former Vermont corrections officer has been acquitted of charges he sexually exploited an inmate at a South Burlington jail in 2014.

The Burlington Free Press reports a jury took 30 minutes to deliver the verdict Wednesday after the daylong trail of 30-year-old William Savaria III.

The Fairfax man was accused of having a sexual relationship with a female inmate at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility.

Savaria testified that he knew the woman as an inmate and met with her after she was released from jail. He called the meeting a move of "poor moral judgment" that happened during a rough patch with his wife.

Savaria was charged in November 2014 and resigned in January 2015.

Man wants trial moved out of county

A Vermont man charged in the 2010 kidnapping and killing of a 78-year-old grandmother will request that his trial be moved out of Caledonia County.

The Caledonian Record reports 34-year-old Keith Baird will request the relocation on Friday, as well as ask for the dismissal of his first-degree murder charge.

Baird has been charged with murder, felony burglary and kidnapping stemming from the September 2010 slaying of Pat O'Hagan.

Prosecutors say Baird and two other men intended to rob O'Hagan when they broke into her Sheffield home, but one co-defendant fatally shot her in the kitchen.

Defense attorney Robert Katims argued in his motion that while the state can place his client at the scene, they don't have enough evidence to prove that Baird took part in the shooting.

Forest Service closes cliffs for falcon nests

The U.S. Forest Service says two cliffs in the Green Mountain National Forest are being temporarily closed to the public to protect peregrine falcon nesting sites.

The Forest Service closes the Rattlesnake Cliff area in Salisbury and the Mount Horrid and Great Cliff area in Rochester each year from March 15 through Aug. 1.

A number of other peregrine nesting areas are also closed in other parts of the state each spring.

Scientists say that last year 49 breeding pairs of the peregrine falcons produced 67 young, a modern record.

Peregrine falcons were pushed out of Vermont in the 1960s by the use of the pesticide DDT. Restoration efforts began in the 1980s. The bird was removed from the state's endangered and threatened species list in 2005.

Smith declines chance to raise smoking age

Speaker Shap Smith has declined a rare opportunity to cast a tie-breaking vote in the Vermont House, effectively killing a measure to raise the state's smoking age from 18 to 21.

Rep. George Till, a Jericho Democrat and physician, offered the amendment Wednesday on a bill relating to electronic cigarettes, and a roll call resulted in a tie vote of 71 to 71.

House rules say the speaker may — but doesn't have to — cast the tie-breaking vote. Smith declined to do so, and the amendment failed.

The speaker's assistant, Dylan Giambatista, later said Smith was bothered by the fact that Till's amendment had not been reviewed by a House committee, a usual part of the legislative process. He says there may be other opportunities to revisit the issue.

Three injured in two-car crash

Officials say a two-car crash in South Burlington has left three people injured.

The Burlington Free Press reports the crash occurred just before 7:45 p.m. Thursday in South Burlington. Authorities say three people were taken to a hospital with what appeared to be injuries that aren't life-threatening.

Investigators say a car turning left collided with a truck and went off the roadway.

The crash caused lane closures as investigators cased the scene.


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