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Addison County’s top prosecutor pleads not guilty to DUI charge

Addison County State’s Attorney Eva Vekos is arraigned on a DUI charge in Addison County Superior criminal court in Middlebury 2024. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger
Glenn Russell/Glenn Russell
Addison County State’s Attorney Eva Vekos is arraigned on a DUI charge in Addison County Superior criminal court in Middlebury 2024. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Addison County State’s Attorney Eva Vekos pleaded not guilty on Monday to a charge that she allegedly drove drunk to a crime scene in late January.

The Attorney General’s office is prosecuting the case, since Vekos was arrested in Addison County where she serves as state’s attorney, an elected position. The DUI charge, a misdemeanor, carries a potential two year prison sentence and $750 fine.

Vekos, 54, didn’t speak at all during her arraignment and was released on her own recognizance. She promptly left the courthouse when the hearing ended and didn’t say anything to reporters.

Vekos’ attorney, David Sleigh, also declined to comment after the hearing. Assistant Attorney General Rose Kennedy declined to comment as well.

More from Vermont Public: Addison County state’s attorney arrested for DUI after appearing drunk at a crime scene, police say

According to police affidavits, Vekos joined Vermont State Police at a house on Swinton Road in Bridport where troopers were investigating a suspicious death that had occurred the previous night. Vekos arrived at the house in her own car around 8:52 p.m. According to court records, multiple state troopers at the scene said they smelled alcohol on Vekos, and several also said she was slurring her speech.

Officers at the scene asked Vekos to take a field sobriety test before she left. Detective Trooper Ryan Anthony asked Vekos, who was sitting in her car with the vehicle on, how much alcohol she’d had that night, according to his affidavit. Vekos told Anthony she’d had one gin and tonic with a burger about an hour prior.

Anthony wrote in his affidavit he asked Vekos to take a field sobriety test because there was a “strong odor of intoxicants” coming from Vekos and that she was slurring her speech. Vekos refused to take the test.

“Are you serious Ryan, can’t you just have a friend come and get me,” Vekos said, according to court records.

Anthony told Vekos that wasn’t an option and that if she didn’t do the field test she’d be arrested. Vekos refused again, stepped out of the car and told Anthony to “take her under arrest,” the affidavit says.

Vekos was taken to the state police barracks in New Haven where she refused to answer questions and take any evidentiary tests. She also refused to be fingerprinted or photographed. At the barracks, Vekos told Sgt. Eden Neary that her arrest was going to damage the relationship between her office and law enforcement because trooper Ryan Anthony “doesn't know how to apply discretion and he didn’t go to his supervisors,” court records say.

Judge Thomas Zonay, during Monday’s arraignment, rejected a motion by Vekos’ attorney to dismiss the charge for lack of probable cause, citing the information in the police affidavits, like Vekos’ alleged slurred speech, the smell of alcohol and her refusal to take a field sobriety test.

“The standard for probable cause is whether the facts and circumstances are sufficient to lead a reasonable person to believe that a crime was committed and that the suspect committed it,” Zonay said during the hearing. “These factors are sufficient to meet the probable cause standard.”

Zonay rejected a motion made by the state that would have forced Vekos’ to be fingerprinted and photographed and also ruled to move the case from Addison County to Chittenden County.

More from Vermont Public: Addison County state's attorney says she feels unsafe around police in email sent after DUI arrest

Vekos’ relationship with law enforcement in Addison County has been strained since her arrest. About a week after her arrest, Vekos told the county’s police chiefs she wouldn’t appear in-person at a meeting with them because she doesn’t feel safe around law enforcement anymore, according to emails obtained through a public records request.

Vekos also told the chiefs she was disappointed to not attend the meeting in-person because she’d been hoping to teach grammar skills to get county police up to an “elementary school level.” Vekos apologized about an hour after sending the message, and after the commander of the New Haven state police barracks, told her that the email was “completely unprofessional and disappointing to see,” according to the emails.

Vekos was elected Addison County state’s attorney in 2022 and made headlines this fall after charging a 14-year old as an adult after the teen was accused of fatally shooting another teen.

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Liam is Vermont Public’s public safety reporter, focusing on law enforcement, courts and the prison system.
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