Spanos denies charges; held on $200K bail
By Brent Curtis
STAFF WRITER | September 29,2012
Vyto Starinskas / Staff Photo
Alex W. Spanos is brought into Rutland criminal court Friday to face six charges, including manslaughter, for Wednesday’s fatal crash on Cleveland Avenue in the city.
The man accused of causing the crash that killed 17-year-old Carly Ferro kept his head bowed and remained silent Friday as his lawyer denied manslaughter and five other charges.
Dressed in a suit and tie, his wrists and ankles manacled, Alex W. Spanos pleaded innocent in a Rutland courtroom to four felony and two misdemeanor charges that could result in more than 60 years in jail.
Spanos, 23, wiped his eyes with a tissue during the brief hearing, in which public defender Mary Kay Lanthier told the court her client was pleading innocent to the six charges.
Lanthier did not argue against the prosecution’s request that Spanos be jailed on $200,000 bail.
Judge Theresa DiMauro granted the bail request, and Spanos was returned to the Rutland jail.
Ferro, a Rutland High School senior, was mortally wounded in the crash that injured four other people, including her father, who was waiting to pick her up from work on Cleveland Avenue on Wednesday evening.
A handful of Ferro’s friends watched the court proceedings from behind the prosecution’s table while Spanos’ friends and family filled two rows of benches behind the defense table at Rutland criminal court.
Spanos didn’t appear to acknowledge any of them as he was led into and out of the courtroom.
He had spent Thursday at the hospital for injuries he received in the crash, but no wounds were evident during his first public appearance since the incident.
Four of the charges are felonies: manslaughter, gross negligent operation of a motor vehicle with death resulting, and two counts of gross negligent operation of a motor vehicle with serious injury resulting. The misdemeanor charges are reckless and gross operation of a motor vehicle and reckless endangerment.
Rutland City Police say Spanos was getting high by inhaling from an aerosol can and was driving up to 80 mph when he crashed into a row of parked cars outside Carly Ferro’s workplace, the Rutland Discount Food and Liquidation Center, just after 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The impact was so great that it pushed four stationary vehicles more than 100 feet and pinned a car containing Carly’s father, Ron Ferro, against the store’s masonry wall.
Carly Ferro, who was walking around the passenger side of her father’s vehicle, was struck and thrown into the wall. She died less than 2½ hours later at Rutland Regional Medical Center.
Ron Ferro remained at the hospital Friday night, when he was listed in good condition, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
One of the passengers in Spanos’ car, Michael Longley, 27, was released from the hospital Thursday, while Eva Lebo, 43, who police said broke her arm in the crash, was discharged Friday evening.
According to an affidavit by city police, Spanos had inhaled aerosol from a can of Dust-Off just moments before the crash.
While a legal cleaning chemical, the spray can be used to generate an intense high if “huffed”or inhaled in concentrated doses.
Patrolman Edward Dumas said in the affidavit that Longley and Lebo told police that Spanos had grabbed a can of Dust-Off just before turning onto Cleveland Avenue, and Lebo told investigators that Spanos was “making no sense as he tried to talk” in the moments before the crash.
Longley told police that Spanos had huffed about 1½ cans of the chemical throughout the day Wednesday.
Police said Spanos denied ingesting any alcohol or drugs when interviewed at the hospital. Police said they had applied for an emergency warrant to obtain a toxicology screening of Spanos’ blood. The results of that warrant weren’t available Friday.
City police and Vermont State Police seized several cans of Dust-Off in bushes near the scene along with a case of beer — all of which police say Longley tried to hide after the crash.
Neither Longley nor Lebo has been charged with any criminal acts.