A federal jury in Vermont sentenced Donald Fell to death yesterday for kidnapping and killing a supermarket clerk five years ago, the Boston Globe reports. It was the first time in nearly 50 years that someone has been sentenced to die in Vermont. Fell, 25, was convicted June 24 of kidnapping a 53-year-old grandmother when she arrived for work at a supermarket, taking her to New York state, and bludgeoning her to death.
Hours earlier, Fell, with his childhood friend who later hanged himself in jail, had killed his mother and her boyfriend in the apartment Fell shared with them. The case has stirred passionate debate in Vermont, one of 12 states with no death penalty. The last execution in Vermont was in 1954, when two killers were electrocuted. No one has been sentenced to death in the state since 1957, a sentence that was later commuted. The death penalty was abolished in 1987. Fell was to plead guilty to a single charge in exchange for a life sentence without parole. But U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft rejected the deal, insisting that prosecutors proceed with a death penalty case.