Death row inmate expected to avoid death penalty
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont man facing a death penalty retrial on charges of abducting and killing a supermarket worker nearly two decades ago is expected to plead guilty and avoid the death penalty.
Donald Fell was convicted in 2005 and sentenced to death under federal law for the 2000 kidnapping and killing of Terry King, a Rutland supermarket worker. The conviction was later thrown out due to juror misconduct. He was facing an upcoming retrial in the death penalty case.
A plea agreement filed in federal court Wednesday said he has agreed to plead guilty to carjacking and kidnapping, both with death resulting, and will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. A change of plea and sentencing hearing is scheduled for Sept. 28.
For the family of King, justice isn’t being served with the plea deal.
“There is no closure for the family and there never will be. They have agreed to do the plea deal and we as a family do not agree with it,” said King’s sister, Barbara Tuttle, who said the family wanted the death penalty.
“There’s no justice. The only justice for him is to be dead because then he doesn’t have any kind of a life,” she said. “He has a life, my sister doesn’t and she was not given the choice.”
Prosecutors say that on Nov. 27, 2000, Fell, now 38, and friend Robert Lee killed Fell’s mother and her friend in a Rutland apartment. Fell and Lee then abducted Terry King as she arrived for work at a Rutland supermarket because they wanted her car to escape Vermont. King was beaten to death later that day by the side of the road in New York state.
Lee hanged himself in prison in 2001.
Fell has repeatedly offered to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence, but up until now prosecutors have rejected the offer, insisting he face the death penalty.