Lack of ‘direct evidence’ leads to bail for Michael Louise

Michael Louise (C), Catherine and George Peacock (L and R); images via Vermont State Police

An 80-year-old upstate New York man charged with murdering his in-laws decades ago in Vermont has been allowed bail after the Green Mountain State’s highest court affirmed a chain of custody issue surrounding the state’s star blood evidence was too big to ignore.

In the eyes of the Vermont Supreme Court, the only “direct evidence” tying Michael Louise to the murders of 76-year-old George Peacock and 73-year-old Catherine Peacock — a speck of George’s blood on a floor mat inside the defendant’s 1986 Chevy Celebrity — is buttressed by inadmissible hearsay, after the state “provided no testimony or affidavit from the New York trooper who collected the floor mat” blood sample.

“Here, the statement in the forensic laboratory records that the ‘[e]vidence [was] collected from suspect vehicle by New York Trooper Charles Stepneski in N. Syracuse, N.Y.’ necessarily falls within that [hearsay] definition because: (1) it was made outside of the court; and (2) it is offered to prove the very assertion it makes, that the floor mat was collected by Trooper Stepneski,” wrote Associate Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court Nancy J. Waples on April 28. “Therefore, unless this statement falls into one of the hearsay exceptions outlined in Vermont Rules of Evidence 803 or 804, it would not be admissible evidence.”

Lack of ‘direct evidence’ leads to bail for Michael Louise

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