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MONTPELIER — Less than three months after he was released on furlough, Daniel King, 40, broke into a home in Shady Pines Park in Westminster and got shot by the homeowner.

On Jan. 19, Washington County Superior Court Judge Robert Mello issued an order countermanding a Department of Corrections decision that revoked King’s furlough for one year, reducing it to six months.

“Although he had a significant criminal record, his record was not substantially different from that of other individuals for whom DOC imposed interruptions of six months or less under similar circumstances,” wrote Mello in the decision. “The court concludes, therefore, that DOC abused its discretion in imposing an interrupt of more than six months in this case.”

The DOC had issued a one-year interrupt, an order that sent King back to jail for violating his furlough, in May 2021 after he left his registered address in Wallingford and could not be found for 11 days.

“This Court has heard almost twenty of these ... appeals, several of which have involved furloughees who absconded,” wrote Mello. “Those cases reveal that, absent aggravating circumstances, when a furloughee absconds for the first time, DOC generally re-incarcerates the furloughee for a short period of time, typically for six months or less, and then returns the furloughee to the community under furlough supervision.”

Historically, wrote Mello, a one-year interrupt had been instituted on furloughees who have absconded for a second time, committed a new criminal offense, or had a substance misuse relapse and refused to engage in substance abuse services.

“Here, this was King’s first time absconding from furlough, and he was missing for only eleven days,” wrote Mello. He had been on furlough successfully for four months, during which he had stayed in contact with his supervising furlough officer, re-connected with his 18-year-old son, remained gainfully employed, committed no new crimes, and consumed no illegal drugs.”

On March 14, King kicked in a door in Shady Pines Park, shouting “ATF, come out with your hands up.”

The homeowner, Nathaniel Keefe shot King shortly thereafter.

King was taken to Dartmouth Hitchcock Memorial Hospital for treatment. After being released, King was taken back into custody. On April 7, King pleaded not guilty to charges of burglary into an occupied dwelling armed with a deadly weapon. He was ordered held without bail.

It is unclear why King and Jacquelyn Fougere, 29, of Springfield, who accompanied him, broke into the mobile home, though Keefe did tell police he had several grams of cannabis oil in his home.

According to court documents, text messages on phones taken from King and Fougere, the pair allegedly planned to rob Keefe of “money and the product.”

In his decision, Mello noted that King’s six-month furlough should have ended on Dec. 1.

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“Therefore, DOC is ordered to return the Appellant to the community on furlough at the first opportunity,” wrote Mello, in the order issued Jan. 19.

King has a criminal record extending back to 1999, including 10 felonies and three misdemeanors and is currently serving a three-and-a-half to 10-year sentence imposed in 2018 on charges of burglary, accessory to burglary, and possession of stolen property.

His minimum release date was March 9, 2021, and his maximum release date was set at Sept. 9, 2027.

He also has a history of substance abuse, crack cocaine and heroin, noted Mello.

King contended he’s been sober since August of 2017.

He was placed on furlough in January 2021 and instructed to live in Wallingford and work at a dog kennel there.

He was also required to “remain accessible to his supervising officer by phone and email at all times” and not leave the state of Vermont without the permission of his supervising officer.

On May 24, 2021, his parole officer was notified that King had left and had not returned. It took the officer 11 days to locate him at a friend’s house in Keene, N.H.

Once back in custody, King was sentenced to serve back to jail for a year.

During his appeal of the DOC’s decision, King contended he did not relapse into substance misuse and did not commit any other crimes. King also said the owner of the dog kennel took his phone and tried to poison him.

“The Court agrees with DOC that King’s far-fetched version of the events lacks credibility,” wrote Mello. “It is highly improbable, to say the least, that a supervising furlough officer would require a furloughee to continue living with someone who was trying to poison him.”

Nonetheless, wrote Mello, a one-year interruption was an abuse of discretion by the Department of Corrections.

Windham County State’s Attorney Tracy Shriver had no comment on whether Fougere would be charged for her participation in the home invasion.

Bob Audette can be contacted at raudette@reformer.com.