Robin O'Neill convicted of aggravated murder

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BRATTLEBORO — The case of State vs. Robin O'Neill concluded Wednesday with the jury declaring O'Neill guilty of aggravated murder.

O'Neill was charged with the Nov. 18 murders of Steven and Jamis Lott. She was found guilty of shooting Steven Lott after he broke off their engagement. Lott's son, Jamis, was home doing laundry when he was also shot and killed. Police reports state that O'Neill was intoxicated when police showed up. According to court documents, a family friend called police, stating he'd received a call from O'Neill who said something to the effect of ''I did it. I just shot and killed Steve and Jamis."

The defense argued that there was not enough physical or forensic evidence to charge O'Neill with the murders, while the prosecution argued that O'Neill had considerable motive.

The jury started deliberations Tuesday afternoon, and finished Wednesday afternoon. It took jurors 10 hours in total.

Judge Katherine Hayes thanked the counsel and audience for their participation and professionalism during the three-week trial.

"It was a very well tried case, on both sides," she said. "And I appreciate the professionalism on both sides for this complicated and difficult matter." She thanked Steven and Jamis Lott's family and friends, many of whom showed up throughout the three-week trial, for their self control. She noted how the audience was careful not to show emotion, even when sensitive photos or topics were brought up, so that the jury wouldn't sympathize more with the prosecution. The judge also thanked the jury, including three alternate jury members who chose to stay throughout the case's conclusion.

"This was a long and difficult case," Hayes said.

Following the verdict friends and family flooded the court lobby to congratulate one another.

"We're extremely relieved and happy with the verdict," said Ellenka Wasung-Lott, Jamis Lott's cousin and Steven Lott's niece. "We appreciate the perseverance and dedication of the State's Attorney's Office and the dedication, hard work and diligence of the jury to bring justice for Stevie and Jamis."

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Defense attorney Ian Carleton declined to comment following the verdict. State's Attorney Tracy Shriver, however, was pleased with the outcome.

"The state is very appreciative of all the hard work that the jury put in," Shriver said. "They stuck with it for a very long time, and listened to a lot of evidence and we appreciate their careful attention."

She also acknowledged the hard work put in by the defense.

"I thought the case was very well tried, as you heard the judge say at the end," Shriver said. "It was a very professional, well-tried case."

She also acknowledged the prosecution's hard work, praising the lead attorney.

"I do have to say, that Deputy States Attorney Steven Brown did an excellent job."

Mostly she thought that this case, though long, was a prime example of what the American court system should look like.

"This is the epitome of the system, right?" she said. "We have 12 jurors who find the facts. Both sides presented their case to the fullest, and argued to the fullest what they thought about the what facts should be."

The court has not yet scheduled a sentencing hearing. Hayes suspects it will take a half a day.

Harmony Birch can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext.153. Or you can follow her @birchharmony.


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