Key witness granted immunity in Spanos case
By Brent Curtis
STAFF WRITER | April 02,2013
A witness central to the murder case against a man charged with killing Carly Ferro has been granted immunity from prosecution.
Late last week, Rutland County State’s Attorney Marc Brierre asked for and received approval from a Rutland judge to protect witness Michael Longley from any criminal charges that may have resulted from his involvement in the fatal crash that killed the 17-year-old Rutland High School student on Sept. 26, 2012.
The request was made and approved the day before lawyers on both sides of the case began to depose Longley. The answers to the deposition questions are being preserved and could serve as testimony at the trial of Alex Spanos should 27-year-old Longley not appear to testify.
Prosecutors said last week that was a possibility due to his relocation to the South and difficulties police have had maintaining contact with him during the past six months.
The deposition hearing, which began Friday afternoon in a locked Rutland criminal courtroom, continued throughout the day on Monday.
In a motion filed by Brierre on Thursday, the prosecutor said that Longley’s willingness to answer questions at his deposition hearing was dependent on his freedom from prosecution.
“Said witness has information and his testimony appears to be necessary to the public interest ... and said witness has refused or is likely to refuse to testify or provide such information on the basis of the witness’s claim of a privilege of self-incrimination,” Brierre wrote in his motion.
Longley has been described as a key witness in the case because he is one of two people who police say was in a car driven by Spanos moments before the crash in front of Rutland Discount Foods on Cleveland Avenue.
Longley told police he saw Spanos inhale from an aerosol can of Dust-Off moments before his Toyota Camry crashed at a high speed into a row of parked cars outside the store.
Ferro, who was walking to her father’s parked car outside the store, was struck by one of the vehicles during the impact and died soon after.
But perhaps more important for proving the murder charge is what Longley said he saw days before the crash.
The second-degree murder charge against Spanos asserts that his conduct while driving the car and allegedly huffing on Sept. 26 showed “wanton disregard of the likelihood that death or great bodily harm would result.”
To prove that level of recklessness, former Windsor County State’s Attorney Robert Sand said prosecutors must show that a person knew the risks and acted anyway.
“The textbook example is someone shooting or driving into a crowd,” Sand said.
Brierre hasn’t said how Spanos’ conduct reached that high legal threshold.
However, Longley told police he saw something days before the crash that no other witness reported.
Longley told police he saw Spanos almost knocked unconscious after taking a hit from a can of Dust-Off, according to a police affidavit. When or where that incident took place wasn’t recorded in the affidavit.
What sort of criminal offense Longley needed immunity from wasn’t described in Brierre’s motion and the prosecutor declined Monday to talk about the deal.
“I can’t discuss an open case,” he said.
While Longley was never charged with a crime related to the crash, witnesses told police that after the crash Spanos and Longley tried to hide several cans of Dust-Off before officers arrived.