'02 murder convict gets more time for challenge

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NEWFANE — A Windham County judge gave the attorney for a former Bellows Falls man, convicted in a 2002 double murder in Grafton, more time to file an amended complaint for post-conviction relief.

Windham County State's Attorney Tracy Kelly Shriver said Friday after the brief court hearing that Windham Superior Court Judge Robert Gerety set a new deadline for the latest legal complaint from Charles "Poncho" Sherman. The court-appointed lawyer for Sherman will have an additional 60 days to prepare Sherman's latest motion for post-conviction relief.

In a handwritten motion filed last summer, Sherman claimed that now-retired Judge John Wesley was prejudiced against him because he had been the presiding judge in the murder trial of Sherman's co-defendant, Michael Perez, and that Wesley had coerced Sherman into pleading guilty. Sherman was convicted, along with Perez, of killing Gregg Enos, 34, of Brattleboro, and Colleen Davis, also 34, of Athens, at the Mollie Beattie State Forest in Grafton in June 2002.

"He wants to undo his guilty plea," said Shriver.

Enos and Davis had picked up Sherman and Perez, who were hitchhiking, and they ended up at the remote Civilian Conservation Corps camp in Grafton to drink. Enos was stabbed to death and Davis was bludgeoned to death with a tree branch. Sherman and Perez then tried to set Enos' truck on fire to burn the bodies.

Sherman entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors after Perez was found guilty after a two-week trial of aggravated murder. Perez, who was 21 at the time of the murders, received a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Sherman received a sentenced of 25 years to life, concurrent on both charges, after he pleaded guilty to being an accessory to aggravated murder. Both men blamed the murders of Enos and Davis on each other.

Shriver said it isn't the first petition for post-conviction relief from Sherman. She said Sherman had filed four earlier petitions in 2005, 2006, 2007 and in 2013. All had been dismissed, she said.

Patricia Lancaster, who was appointed to represented Sherman, indicated that she would focus the amended complaint on Sherman's 'colloquoy' or address to the judge during his sentencing, Shriver said. Both Sherman and Perez are being held at the Tallahatchie County Corrrectional Facility in Mississippi.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com or 802 254-2311, ext. 154.

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