By Stephen Seitz and
RUTLAND – As Craig Mosher’s involuntary manslaughter case wends its way through the court system, farmers are worried about the future should there be a conviction.
In July 2015, Connecticut resident Jon Bellis died after his car hit a bull owned by Mosher. The animal had escaped his enclosure in Killington and was also killed in the crash. Mosher was subsequently charged with involuntary manslaughter following a grand jury indictment a few weeks ago.
On Monday, June 6, Mosher appeared in Rutland Superior Court, Criminal Division for a status conference. The attorneys told Judge Thomas A. Zonay that they need some more time to establish a schedule for discovery in the case, which the judge granted.
The case will resume in July.
Raymond Duquette, who owns Duquette’s Round Bale Farm in West Pawlet and is a member of the Vermont Farm Bureau, said farmers were worried about liability issues should Mosher be convicted.
“More farmers are housing their animals rather than letting them out into the pasture,” he told the Mountain Times after the hearing. “Some of them are thinking about getting rid of their herds altogether. We feel this should not be a criminal matter. This was an accident, nothing more.”
Carmela Carter, who owns Fruitland Farms in Pittsford, said escaping animals comes with the territory. “Nothing in the world could have kept them in,” she said, adding that the criminal charge is “a rotten shame.”
Burlington attorney Jerome F. O’Neill represents Bellis’ widow, Kathryn Barry. He said the civil side of the case has already been settled.
“I can’t go into details due to a confidentiality agreement,” he said. “The settlement was mutually beneficial to both parties.”
O’Neill added that, so far as the criminal side of the case, the public was getting quite a bit of misinformation.
“The facts have been distorted,” he said. “Too much opinion is involved. This is very much a public safety issue.”
O’Neill said Mosher’s bull had escaped six times between May 19 and July 31, 2015, adding that Mosher had been warned on those occasions.
“The standard here is basic negligence,” said O’Neill.