Todd Smith: Sarah George and criminal prosecution

By Todd Smith | The Caledonian Record

Last week Chittenden County Prosecutor Sarah George asked a judge to move a case against Tyshane Smith, 18, of Burlington, to juvenile court to be treated as a “youthful offender.” Juvenile court proceedings are secret and punishments get scrubbed from permanent records.

Department of State’s Attorneys and Sheriffs/Public Domain

Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George

Smith, a suspected gang member, is accused of shooting “at least” five rounds from a 9 mm inside the crowded University Mall on Feb. 1. Police say he went on a robbery spree before firing on another 18-year-old, wounding an innocent bystander in the process. Smith allegedly fled to Florida, where he was arrested after a massive nationwide search by federal, state, county and local law enforcement officials. According to our report from Mike Donoghue, he also faced a felony drug count in Florida, but that was dropped to allow for the Chittenden County Sheriff’s Department to return him to Vermont on Thursday evening.

Vermont Superior Court Judge Alison Arms ordered Smith to be held without bail.

Smith sounds like a pretty bad dude, for whom “youthful offender” is wildly inappropriate.

But the move doesn’t surprise us coming from Sarah George. Every time she comes up, it seems, it’s for something dubious.

Teen Kills Elderly Couple, Fined $220 In Secret Process

This past year she made headlines for fighting like a trapped wolverine to keep a teenager’s name from getting out after she caused a deadly crash.

Sixteen-year-old Isabel Jennifer Seward was fined $220 for killing an elderly couple in September. She reportedly comes from a prominent family; gave at least three different stories about her cell phone use (including one on the scene to Charlotte Rescue personnel that she was texting before the crash); and her mom paid the small fine for the offense of “driving on roadways laned for traffic.”

For reasons we will never comprehend, George tried to cover up the crash and went after State Police, who released Seward’s name to the public. George’s tirade caused the police to attempt to bury the ticket and to overreact with a new, unconstitutional policy to keep juvenile names secret in all circumstances.

Getting Away With Murder

In June 2019, George dropped all charges against two accused murderers and a woman charged with attempted murder. The defendants all claimed they were insane and George said she couldn’t prove otherwise.

A short time later, Gov. Phil Scott expressed surprise and confusion about the moves.

“From a layperson’s perspective, and certainly as Governor, I’m at a loss as to the logic or strategy behind this decision to drop all charges – especially because the State’s Attorney is aware the Department of Mental Health has no legal authority to continue to keep individuals hospitalized when they do not meet the legal criteria for hospital level of care,” Scott wrote in a letter to Attorney General TJ Donovan — George’s boss. “The top priority of government is public safety, and I certainly don’t take this obligation lightly. Civil society cannot function properly when a heinous violent crime is not properly adjudicated, and the public is put at risk.”

Governor Scott rightly pointed out that the crimes in question are among the most gruesome in our state’s history.

Louis Fortier was charged with first-degree murder for repeatedly stabbing a man to death (in the head and neck) in broad daylight on Church Street in Burlington.

Aita Gurung used a meat cleaver to hack his wife to death before turning the blade on his mother-in-law and nearly killing her. He was charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder after allegedly yelling, “she betray me, she betray me,” as he chopped her head to pieces in the front yard of their Burlington home.

Veronica Lewis shot her firearms instructor twice in the face and once in the stomach, nearly killing him. She was charged with attempted first-degree murder.

By dismissing the cases, George put Fortier, Gurung, and Lewis in the Vermont Department of Mental Health care, where they may, or may not, stay for a while. The public will have no clue when the unholy trio might show up in their neighborhood.

For their part, the mental health department was quick to admit they have neither the tools nor the inclination to dispense justice. “We are not a state entity that administers or enforces criminal justice,” Sarah Squirrell, commissioner of the Department of Mental Health, told VTDigger at the time. “We aren’t an arm of law enforcement and we’re not designed, nor do we have the tools, to ensure high levels of public safety.”

We listened to everything else George said (and tweeted) on the topic and didn’t for a second dispute these people are nuttier than fruitcakes. But we found her decision to issue get-of-jail-free cards, without any effort to prosecute, to be a shocking dereliction of duty that puts the public in extreme danger.

Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan apparently agreed with us. He took over and refiled criminal charges in all the cases.

Wild West Shootout

In February 2018, a 33-year-old man punched another man in the face, prompting both to pull out handguns in downtown Burlington. In the ensuing gunfight, an innocent 26-year-old bystander was hit in her chest and hospitalized for life-threatening injuries after the bullet passed through her body. The physical and mental wounds will be lifelong.

The man who threw the punch and fled the scene was Carl Martin of Colchester. The man who got punched and fired two gunshots into a crowd — nearly killing the local woman — was Rashad Nashid. Both men reportedly drew guns. The “wild-West” shootout was sparked by a lovers’ quarrel between Nashid and Martin’s brother.

In March of that year, Nashid, 37, denied a federal charge of possessing a firearm as a felon related to the gunfight. Court records show that Nashid has at least seven felony convictions to his name. He is being held in federal prison on these and unrelated charges.

In August of 2018, Burlington police charged Martin with aggravated assault, aggravated disorderly conduct, negligent use of a gun, and reckless endangerment.

In September, George said she would not prosecute Martin. She said she believed his story that he feared for his brother’s life and acted in self-defense when he punched Nashid in the face and drew his gun.

“Mr. Martin’s actions were irresponsible, dangerous and injudicious,” George wrote. “However, given the totality of the circumstances, his actions were not criminal.”

If you think that’s insane, then you’d be in the same camp as former Burlington Police Chief Brandon Del Pozo. In an extremely rare public rebuke of George’s decision, Del Pozo wrote:

We believe that for his decision not to leave the scene or seek help through the night, but rather to stop drinking, stay on the scene, arm himself with a handgun, cross Main Street, then begin a physical fight by punching Nashid in the face and pointing a gun at him, [the victim] would not have been shot in the lung and nearly killed as Nashid ran from Martin while firing a gun of his own. … We felt a courtroom of Vermonters should consider whether or not Carl Martin needed to preemptively attack Nashid with a fist and a gun to protect his brother. The consequences were too serious for the city to accept his word without a judicial process.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger concurred. “Our police department is right on this one,” Weinberger said. “A night of gun violence in downtown [Burlington] like this should be judged by Vermonters in a court of law. A free pass sends the wrong message.”

That’s certainly how we feel. We may be old fashioned, but we think jail is the appropriate place for someone who kills an elderly couple while texting and driving; or stabs or chops a person to death in broad daylight; or shoots somebody in the face multiple times; or shoots innocent bystanders downtown, or at the mall. George sees things differently, which we see as an enormous problem.

Todd M. Smith is the publisher of the Caledonian Record, where this editorial first appeared. He lives in St. Johnsbury.

Image courtesy of Department of State’s Attorneys and Sheriffs/Public Domain

20 thoughts on “Todd Smith: Sarah George and criminal prosecution

  1. I wrote this article back when it was happenning, but not as well.

    The two Sarahs, George and Squirrel – of Mental health – must both be replaced if Vermont is ever to be a safe place again! Kamala Harris all over again?!!

    Law is nothing if “Prosecutors” will not prosecute. If prosecutors will not do their job, why should local and state
    Police keep trying to protect the public. The killers never get prosecuted for killing – back on the street when Mental Health has cured them, ready to do violence to the NEXT VICTIM

  2. Isn’t this person the exact reason we don’t need gun control. Think she’ll protect the populace?
    Wonder if Gov Scott is concerned, with criminals walking and threatening people, he’s also vulnerable to George’s freeing of criminals. It’s open warfare.

  3. This seems to me to be a simple case of “prosecutorial discretion” where she chases those cases she is most likely to win to bolster her record and dismisses those that she views a potentially problematic. At any rate, she simply is not doing her job as it is intended to be done.

  4. It’s time for a class action lawsuit against her office. The class being the unprotected citizens of Chittenden county and their continuous exposure to criminal violence by repeat offenders who are given the opportunity to re-offend due to the irresponsible conduct of the Chittenden County alleged Prosecutor.

  5. The most simple and brutish of beasts reacts to punishment. A man or woman of most any capacity knows for example, putting your hand on a hot stove burner hurts….and they don’t do it again. Insane or sane for that matter.

    Punishment is not a bad thing. Not punishing is much worse, people get more and more and more belligerent, unruly and it leads to incidences like this.

    Add into that the most racist device ever invented, the current hollywood productions and tv programs and you are literally PROGRAMMING people to behave like this. Hollywood is one of the most powerful and systemic racist organizations in the world, look how they portray people, it has very little to do with reality.

    • Add to their productions all the violence guns and the killings. A computer fantasy world, they don’t live in a real world. It influences the young minds to commit violence and hence gun control by ignorant politicians (Baruth et al).

      We need another or more Joe McCarthy’s. Ralph Flanders in my opinion was wrong to degrade Joe.

  6. The best way to be rid of this horrible and dangerous “public servant” is by voting her out. Unfortunately, most of Chittenden County is inhabited by people suffering from the mental disorder commonly known as “liberalism” which renders it’s victims incapable of making rational choices, even in the anonymity of the voting booth.

  7. George fits in well with the rest of the Chittenden County cabal. She is “Woke” and doing her part to remain “Woke”. George has shown she will perform her duties as she sees fit, not as the law requires- unless it affects her personally, such as her pressuring for rule changes at Great Hosmer Pond, so that she may water-ski without interruption. As for Chittenden County residents? You’ll have to deal with a very unequal scale of justice, until she decides to run for a higher office.

  8. Sara George tells us that an 18 year old who shot up a shopping mall wounding an innocent bystander is too young, too immature to face justice as an adult…….The shooter must be treated like a child and sent to juvenile court if justice is to be served.

    Meanwhile earlier this year, Progressives in the US House of Representatives proposed a law that would have allowed 18 year olds to vote…….Supposedly because they possessed the maturity and wisdom to assume the responsibilities of voting.

    This is the twisted thinking fed to us by Progressive logic……..This country has got serious problems that go well beyond the scary thought of some thug shooting up a shopping mall……These problems reside with those in positions of power across this country who are making decisions every day that impact all of us in profound ways.

    • Totally agree with your take on this. Liberals always want it both ways. It is simply called .situational ethics”.

  9. Another brilliant product of the clown show they call Vermont Law School.

    Well Ms George, if the state continues to be negligent in it’s responsibility to protect the people of the state, then the people are left with no alternative but to take matters into their own hands by whatever means seem appropriate to the people.

    Tomorrow Biden is scheduled to release his plan to reduce “gun violence” via a broad range of rules and restrictions. Meanwhile our resident twit prosecutor is turning the perpetrators of “gun violence” free to repeat their violence on the people she is supposed to be protecting.

    I don’t wish harm on anyone, but it would only be karma if she, or her family, found themselves to be victims of some heinous crime.

  10. James and Monique are part way there….

    Actually she’s caught on the website of fair and just prosecution and a few other organizations with the same characters. TJ Donovan., George Gascon from LA/San Fransisco, Marilyn Mosby from Maryland, , and about every other progressive DA or AG in this country that is on board with these organizations. They have been paid for by Soros, Rothschilds Gates and Facebook (money of all things) and intend to let the bad guys go free.

    You can look at Sarah George’s LinkedIn profile that’s public right now and it will tell you that she doesn’t want to do her job she wants to work her way out of a job which for a prosecutor can only mean one thing, that she won’t prosecute.

    Personally I believe getting rid of these people out of public service is the simplest way for us to start regaining our nation back that is full of good very unsuspecting people.

    Basically, she’s a cancer that needs to be cut out of public service. Bought and paid for by the same people bringing you everything that is really strange in your life right now.

  11. Sara George’s views are QUITE a few bricks shy of even a small load. I wonder how she would rule if her own family member was a VICTIM?

  12. As dangerous as are the criminals profiled in this story, Ms. George is many times as dangerous. What can we do to have her removed from office? We need to do it immediately.

  13. If any member of her family were a victim I expect she’d act the same. She should point to her head and abbreviate Mountain. She’s NOT a public servant. Something has to happen close to her home to awaken her. She puts all in jeopardy and is on the taxpayer payroll. SICK

    She wouldn’t survive in private practice.

  14. I thank Mr. Smith for a well-written and thorough document that lays out one of the major problems of our society: A failure to properly prosecute criminals.

    Ms. George certainly has some exceptionally liberal ideas about consequences of actions, and Vermonters have more than ample reason to be more than just ashamed at these travesties.

  15. George is a perfect example of a person who should not be allowed to make decisions that affect the rest of us.

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