Reporting begins badly, then gets worse.
While Keagan Harsha of WCAX's VT News television station so called "reporting" of the hate crime did Not identify the judge dismissing the charges; in an ongoing display of non-reporting, both AP and Boston Globe merely condensed the already poor coverage, to even less, for reader consumption.
Original REPORT quoted: "In somewhat of an unusual fashion the judge put the case on the stand" - which amazingly enough, continues without identifying the judge.
(Is this the Fourth Estate's version of "Find Waldo" in a story? One wonders What journalism school teaches this kind of stuff?)
Boston Globe - from AP Reports
Judge dismisses hate crime charges
February 24, 2008
ST. ALBANS, Vt.—A judge has dismissed hate crime charges against two teenage sisters accused of slashing tires and spray painting anti-gay slogans on vehicles owned by two gay men, citing a lack of evidence.
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Melissa Gaboury, 16, was released on Friday, after spending several months in prison.
Prosecutors said they believed they had enough evidence -- a can of spray paint, a large knife and razor blades that they said were found in the vehicle Gaboury had been driving -- and said she had contradicted herself during police interviews.
"I feel very bad for the victims in this case because they went through this and they pressed forward and we tried to put it together for a trial in a relatively short period of time and the judge didn't feel we had the evidence to convict her," Franklin County Prosecutor Jim Hughes said.
The judge also dismissed the charges against Gaboury's 18-year-old sister who was expected to go on trial next week in the same case.
VT: Hate Crime Case Dismissed
St. Albans, Vermont - February 22, 2008
It's a bizarre twist that neither the prosecution nor the defense saw coming-- bringing an abrupt halt to the case of an alleged hate crime by a St. Albans teenager.
In somewhat unusual fashion, the judge put the state's case on the stand... questioning evidence linking Melissa Gaboury, 16, to the crime.
Gaboury was accused of slashing tires and helping paint anti-gay phrases on cars belonging to two gay St. Albans men last October.
The judge dismissed the case citing a lack of evidence.
"In my experience, I've never been involved in a trial or seen a trial where an acquittal has been given at the end of the state's case," said defense lawyer Elizabeth Hibbitts.
That means Gaboury is free to go home after spending the last several months behind bars.
"It just tore me apart. I finally get her back," said Gaboury's mother, Crystal Ann Lesperance-Meilleu.
"I'm just really relieved to be out of this whole mess," said Gaboury.
The state argues that it did produce sufficient evidence linking Gaboury to the crime scene. Although no one actually witnessed the crime being committed, the state argues that a can of spray paint, a large knife, and several razor blades were found in a vehicle Gaboury had been driving. And the state says the 16 year old contradicted herself several times when questioned by police.
"I feel very bad for the victims in this case because they went through this and they pressed forward and we tried to put it together for a trial in a relatively short period of time and the judge didn't feel we had the evidence to convict her," said Franklin County Prosecutor Jim Hughes.
After the case was dismissed, the judge called the jury back in to see if they agreed that the state had failed to produce enough evidence.
Melissa Gaboury's 18-year old sister was scheduled to go on trial next week in connection with the same crime. The judge also dismissed that case, after the state failed to prove it had more convincing evidence against the older sister.
The dismissal means it's very unlikely anyone will be charged for committing this hate crime. That leaves a lot of questions unanswered and a Vermont couple on edge.
Asked who she thinks committed the crime, Gaboury answered, "I don't know and I don't want to get involved."
Keagan Harsha - WCAX News