ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. (AP) — A woman whose severely disabled son died after alcohol was put in his IV was released from jail Tuesday after a judge set bail, saying prosecutors couldn't prove she intended to kill the child.
Judge Robert Bent said prosecutors have "a viable manslaughter case" against Melissa Robitille in the Aug. 22 death of 13-year-old Isaac Robitille, but not a second-degree murder case. Intent is necessary for a second-degree murder charge.
Robitille's attorney, Robert Sussman, said she was released Tuesday afternoon, hours after Bent set her $25,000 unsecured bail.
"The state has failed to present evidence sufficient to meet its burden as to proof of the defendant's intent to kill Issac, a child who she had been taking care of under trying circumstances," the judge wrote Tuesday following a Monday hearing to determine if she should be held without bail.
The judge did not throw out the more serious second-degree murder charge, however, saying that was not the purpose of the hearing.
Robitille, 39, had been held without bail since her arrest earlier this month.
Isaac was born with significant disabilities that required the assistance of caretakers for up to 80 hours a week. Feeding tubes supplied him with a diet of a pediatric nutritional drink, baby formula, water and vitamins.
Police say Robitille's boyfriend, Walter Richters, told them he poured vodka in the boy's feeding tube to quiet him after asking Robitille if it would be OK. She answered that it wouldn't hurt.
Deputy Caledonia County States Attorney Maria Byford said the evidence shows Robitille knew that changes to her son's feeding could be harmful to him, the Caledonian Record (http://bit.ly/1oVy5B8 ) reported.
"We have a defendant that said she's nervous when she switches up the juice that she gives to him," Byford said.
But the judge was not convinced.
"You have to have something that says that these folks knew this was gonna kill," Bent said in court Monday. "You've got to show me what these people knew in advance, that they were conscious of it ... as opposed to being a mistake."
Robitille and Richters, both of Hardwick, have pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.
A Wednesday hearing is scheduled for Richters, 38, who remains held without bail.
Information from: The Caledonian-Record, http://www.caledonianrecord.com