Murder case against 14-year-old headed to juvenile court after prosecutor reverses course

Addison County State’s Attorney Eva Vekos pictured in Addison County Superior criminal court in Middlebury on Feb. 12, 2024. (VtDigger - Glenn Russell)

Addison County State’s Attorney Eva Vekos pictured in Addison County Superior criminal court in Middlebury on Feb. 12, 2024. (VtDigger - Glenn Russell) VTDIGGER — Glenn Russell

By ALAN J. KEAYS

VtDigger

Published: 03-26-2024 4:41 PM

MIDDLEBURY — The Addison County state’s attorney told a judge on Monday that she does not object to defense attorneys’ request to move a 14-year-old murder suspect’s case to juvenile court, where it would be closed to the public.

Eva Vekos, who originally brought a second-degree murder charge against the teen in adult court after police said he shot and killed another 14-year-old boy in Bristol, made the comment during a brief hearing Monday afternoon in Addison County Superior criminal court.

The defendant took part in Monday’s hearing by video, seated alongside his attorney, Marshall Pahl, Vermont’s deputy defender general. VTDigger generally does not identify juvenile defendants and is not doing so in this case at this time.

The suspect is accused of killing 14-year-old Shelburne resident Madden Gouveia last October. Police said he was waving a gun around in a car when it discharged, killing Gouveia, who was among the teenage passengers. 

At the last hearing in the case, in late January, Pahl said he was awaiting results from a psychological evaluation of his client and that he would file a motion to transfer the matter to juvenile court. 

“We did file that motion to transfer and had some discussion with the state,” Pahl said during Monday’s hearing. “My understanding is the state is in agreement.” 

Vekos then spoke, telling Judge David Fenster, “We are in agreement with the motion and that’s based on a review of an evaluation that the defense has allowed us to review.”

The defense’s one-page request does not include any details of the teen’s evaluation. The attorneys did not reveal those during Monday’s hearing. 

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Fenster did not grant any motions on Monday. Instead, he asked Vekos to submit a filing indicating that she would not object to transferring the case to family court.

In that event, the proceedings — and the outcome — would be shielded from public view.

A conviction of second-degree murder in adult court carries a penalty of 20 years to life in prison. In family court, judgments are based on the specifics of each case but do not include adult prison sentences.

Vekos’ decision to charge the 14-year-old, who is Black, as an adult drew opposition from civil rights and social justice advocates, including the Rutland-area branch of the NAACP. 

Speaking outside of court following a hearing last November, Vekos called the adult murder charge a “starting point.” 

Several of Gouveia’s relatives attended Monday’s hearing. Outside the court after it concluded, they decried the attempt to move the case to juvenile court.

Speaking through tears, his mother, Kelly Gouveia, said she didn’t believe the shooting was an accident. She cited reports in authorities’ charging documents describing attempts to hide the firearm after the shooting and that no one came to her son’s aid.

“I’m just so upset by this,” Kelly Gouveia said.

She said she would prefer the case not take place in the secrecy of family court. 

“I’d like it to be held in adult court so the whole world can see,” Kelly Gouveia said. 

She said that she and other family members would be meeting soon with Vekos to talk more about the case.  

The defendant has been released on conditions and into his parents’ custody since November.