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Sullivan Pleads Innocent To Hit-And-Run

Rutland Herald/Vyto Starinskas

Former Rutland City Attorney Christopher Sullivan pleaded innocent Thursday to two felony charges related to the April 10 hit-and-run that killed 71-year old Mary Jane Outslay of Mendon.

Sullivan was quiet and composed as he walked with his lawyer into Rutland Criminal Court.  It was a brief visit; just long enough for him to plead innocent to two felony charges - driving under the influence, fatality resulting, and leaving the scene of a fatal crash.  

Each charge carries a potential 15-year prison sentence. 

Sullivan ignored reporters’ questions after the hearing and left the courthouse quickly.

On the night of April 10, Mary Jane Outslay was just leaving a restaurant when she was struck.  A friend who was walking across the street with her says the car that hit her never stopped. 

Christopher Sullivan turned himself in to police 17 hours later.

Officials with the attorney general’s office say they don’t believe the 53-year old is a flight risk and so did not request that the defendant be held in jail.   

Sullivan did agree to surrender his passport and submit to finger printing and photographs by the state police. He will also be subject to random alcohol testing.  He will, however, be allowed to drive. 

Sullivan served as Rutland City Attorney for 19 years until 2007 and many in the city believe that’s gotten him special treatment.  Jennifer Traynor is among them and she attended the hearing.

“The whole community is disgusted that he went three weeks without being incarcerated,” she says. “Any other citizen in Rutland would have been in jail that night.”

But Cindy Maguire disputes that.  Maguire is chief of the Vermont attorney general’s criminal division.

“I can assure you that this defendant has not received any special treatment by virtue of his profession,” she says.  “This is a lengthy and complicated investigation.  He did come in 17 hours after the accident and voluntarily give police a statement.”  Maguire says, “We spent the next three weeks conducting a more thorough investigation following up on leads. And given some of the complexities in the case, we made the decision to do that prior to having him cited into court.”

Maguire wouldn’t specify what those complexities are.  But legal experts say it can be difficult and time consuming to accurately piece together what happened before an accident.

According to court documents, prosecutors believe there is probable cause to believe Christopher Sullivan was driving under the influence when the crash occurred. 

Sullivan told detectives that he drank three glasses of wine at a local bar and then went to the home of a friend where he consumed three or four beers and ate some ribs.  

Shortly before 8:00 p.m. he left to pick up his son from work, telling detectives later that he did not feel he was impaired.  

Sullivan’s next court appearance is scheduled for June 10.  Prosecutors say there is no way to tell when the case might go to trial.