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23-year-old man pleads not guilty to Orleans double murder

Cirell Brown, 23, pleaded not guilty to two charges of second-degree murder on Wednesday. A judge also ordered Brown to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

A 23-year-old man pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to murdering two people at an apartment in Orleans County, and was ordered to undergo a psychiatric examination.

Cirell Brown was charged with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of burglary into an occupied dwelling. He is being held in prison without bail.

Police say, based on witness statements and preliminary evidence, the victims are Paula Broe, 61, and Steven Luisi, 65. The Chief Medical Examiner's office is expected to conduct an autopsy on Thursday to confirm their identities and determine the cause and manner of their deaths, Vermont State Police said in a press release.

According to court records, Vermont State Police in Derby got a 911 call on Tuesday reporting a fight at an apartment on Water Street in Orleans. The caller told police that she saw a man beating someone with a baseball bat, records say.

The caller told police that the man was wearing a “grey hoodie with a jacket over it,” unlaced work boots and black pants.

Trooper Anthony Rice responded to the scene and saw Brown inside the door to the apartment, wearing clothes that matched the caller’s description, according to a police affidavit. Brown's clothing, boots and hands appeared to have “red/brown stains,” records say.

Rice asked Brown if he had any weapons. Brown pulled out a knife and dropped it.

“Why is he not dead,” Brown allegedly said after dropping the knife, according to the affidavit.

Rice handcuffed Brown and put him in a police cruiser where he began speaking and allegedly uttered phrases like, “I was told when you stab something through the brain, they should die. They ain’t dead, bro,” records say.

Police interviewed the victims’ daughter, who said she has known Brown his entire life. She told police that Brown had recently moved back to Orleans and had been spending time at the victims’ apartment, but “they were leery of Brown because of his mental health issues,” records say.

The victims’ grandson also told police that his grandparents considered Brown “one of their own,” according to court records.

Brown, who appeared in court on Wednesday in a red jumpsuit and no shoes, didn’t speak during his arraignment. His attorney, Lydia Newcomb, told Judge Rory Thibault there were “serious concerns about his capacity to understand why exactly he is here today.”

Thibault granted Newcomb’s request that Brown undergo an in-patient psychiatric examination, but also ruled that he’d continue to be held in prison without bail.

The court will likely hold a hearing to check in on the case in a month.

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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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