Chase pleads guilty to second degree murder



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Attorney David Sleigh lays out the plea agreement in which Chris Chase of Littleton, seated, pled guilty to second-degree murder on Monday Dec. 21. (Photo by Jonathan Benton) (click for larger version)
December 23, 2009
ST JOHNSBURY, Vt. — A man accused of killing his girlfriend in Guildhall last summer, has pled guilty to the charge. A change in plea hearing took place last Monday, Dec. 21 at the Caledonia Court House, in which Christopher Chase, 28, of Littleton, pled guilty to second-degree murder.

"A very fair resolution to a very tragic case," said Assistant Attorney General Matt Levine.

Mr. Chase has finally admitted that nearly a year ago he murdered his girlfriend Sara Bragdon, 23, at her Fellows Road home in Guildhall on the evening of August 24, 2008 by shooting her in the head with a 30/30 caliber rifle belonging to her father. Attny Levine spoke on behalf of Ms. Bragdon's family stating that they were supportive of the plea agreement.

In accordance with the plea agreement, the charge against Chase was lowered from first degree murder to second degree murder and a separate charge of aggravated assault was dismissed. The aggravated assault allegedly occurred against a fellow inmate on Sept. 24, 2008.

Also stated in the plea agreement was the minimum sentence of 20 years in jail that Mr. Chase will face that could possibly be pushed as high as a life sentence. The sentencing will be scheduled at a later date and a pre-sentence investigation is underway. The Honorable judge Kathleen Manley presided over the hearing.

State Prosecutor Vince Illuzzi noted that it was his belief that if the case had gone to trial then the jury would have come to a second-degree murder decision anyway and only prolong an already drawn out case.

"There was no premeditation or motive established," said Attny Illuzzi who also mentioned that Mr. Chase's remorseful and distraught state along with appearing suicidal after the incident would provide further evidence to a jury that he did not plan the act.

Charges of second-degree murder were initially filed against Mr. Chase in Essex County Superior Court of which he was arraigned on Sept. 11, 2008. It was on Oct. 23, 2008 that the charges were raised to first-degree murder in Vermont's Essex Circuit Court by Judge Robert Bent in light of further evidence expressing premeditation of the act, to which Mr. Chase had pled not guilty.

Attny Illuzzi said that the suggested premeditation of the murder had only circumstantial evidence, to say whether or not Mr. Chase had sought out the gun and loaded it or if it was already in the room.

A point that Mr. Chase's defense attorney David Sleigh wanted to clear up involved the believed post mortem sexual conduct of Mr. Chase with Ms. Bragdon. Attny Sleigh stated that the reported necrophilia did not occur and that the misinformation was part of an interrogation tactic by New York police.

Mr. Chase had fled to Rochester, New York for three days after the murder and was later apprehended there while exiting a Wal-Mart.

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