BURLINGTON — Testimony focused on cell phone towers and text messages during the ninth day of the trial of a Williston man on trial for driving the wrong way on Interstate 89 and slamming into a car carrying five teenagers from the Mad River Valley.
The state and defense attempted to show the movements and behavior of Steven D. Bourgoin, 38, before he slammed his truck head-on into the teens’ car. He was speeding, headed in the wrong direction and had various drugs in his system during the crash at about 11:55 p.m. Oct. 8, 2016 in Williston, police have said.
The flaming crash killed Eli Brookens, 16, of Waterbury; Janie Chase Cozzi, 15, of Fayston; Liam Hale, 16, of Fayston; Mary Harris, 16, of Moretown and Cyrus Zschau, 16, of Moretown.
Bourgoin has denied five counts of second-degree murder. He also has pleaded not guilty to two subsequent misdemeanor charges: aggravated operation of a Williston Police cruiser without permission by taking it from the accident site and later reckless driving of the police vehicle by driving it into the first crash scene.
The defense is attempting to show that Bourgoin was criminally insane at the time. While the state must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, a defendant only has to show insanity by a preponderance of the evidence.
Bourgoin, who grew up in Rutland, has maintained he was being secretly recruited for a special government mission. He said he was getting messages from music on his car radio, static on his TV and lights at the ATM machine.
Two witnesses took the stand during the half-day session on Thursday. Judge Kevin Griffin said he needed to preside in drug court in the afternoon so the jury was sent home shortly after noon.
The founder of a company that handles cellular geo-location mapping, analysis and training testified about the whereabouts of Bourgoin’s cellphone on the days leading up to the crash.
Sy Ray, the founder of ZetX Corp. in Arizona, testified about the technology that allowed him to lock in the travels of a cellphone assigned to Bourgoin.
“The records are the records,” the retired police homicide detective said.
Ray appeared to confirm earlier statements attributed to Bourgoin that he destroyed and/or threw away his cellphone the night before the crash. Ray said the phone’s signal went dead at 8:42 p.m.
He also appeared to confirm reports that Bourgoin had indicated he went to McDonald’s in Essex to get a pumpkin muffin the night before the crash. He texted McDonald’s about a job that evening.
Vermont State Police Detective Sgt. Cari Crick, who works in the technology division, testified about a long list of phone calls and text messages that Bourgoin received in the week leading up to the crash.
Deputy State’s Attorney Susan Hardin had Crick note the various calls from Pay Pal, Capital One Bank and other possible entities seeking to collect money from Bourgoin, who had expressed frustration about his low pay at Lake Champlain Chocolates in Williston.
Police have said Bourgoin was in a downward spiral with financial issues, including foreclosure and utility shutoffs in the days and weeks leading up to the crash. Many of the texts reflected he was up to 2 or 3 a.m.
Among the calls was one to Todd Taylor on Oct. 7 at about 5:43 p.m., Hardin said. When asked if she knew who Taylor was, Crick said she did.
“Todd Taylor, Todd Taylor,” responded Crick, breaking into song like the radio commercial for the Colchester lawyer, who specializes in bankruptcy.
On cross examination, defense lawyer Robert Katims asked if Crick was aware of lawsuits for illegal robocalls. Crick said she knew there had been a news conference in South Burlington this week talking about the annoyance they cause.
There also was testimony about Bourgoin connecting with his old brother, Kevin, who is a coach with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League. He also reached out to an old classmate, Chris Whitney, who had worked with actor Ryan Reynolds.
Bourgoin said he was focused on increasing his visitation rights with his daughter.
Hardin and State’s Attorney Sarah George have four more witnesses, including Dr. Paul Cotton, a psychiatrist. The state hopes to use him to offset the testimony of their initial expert and a defense expert, who both testified Bourgoin was insane.
Judge Griffin told the jury the testimony could end Friday. The judge said closing arguments and his explanation of the law are coming on Monday.