Lawyer charged in fatal hit and run crash
By Brent Curtis
STAFF WRITER | May 02,2013
Former city attorney Christopher Sullivan will face charges today for a fatal hit-and-run crash in Rutland’s downtown last month.
Three weeks after Jane Outslay, 71, of Mendon was killed crossing Strongs Avenue, the Vermont attorney general’s office announced Wednesday that Sullivan, 53, of Rutland will answer to felony counts of leaving the scene of a fatal crash and driving under the influence with death resulting.
Both charges carry a potential 15-year jail sentence.
Sullivan, who remains free, was cited to appear in Rutland criminal court at 1 p.m. today.
Assistant Attorney General Cindy Maguire said she couldn’t comment on details of the case or whether bail would be sought for the former longtime city attorney.
However, a pair of search warrants that were returned to Rutland criminal court Wednesday stated that Sullivan told police he consumed at least three glasses of wine and three beers in the hours before the crash.
In the warrants, which police obtained to seize the 2004 Lexus sedan Sullivan was driving on the night of the crash as well as his cell phone, Detective Sgt. Albert Abdelnour said Sullivan told police he began drinking about three hours before the crash.
At about 5:10 p.m. on April 10, Sullivan said he visited a bar on Center Street where he drank three glasses of wine. When he left the bar, he traveled to a cookout at a friend’s house on Hazel Street in the northwest section of the city. He told police he ate some ribs and drank three to four beers, court records show.
At about 7:45 p.m., Sullivan said, he left the cookout to pick up his son, who was working at Hannaford’s supermarket off Route 7 in Rutland Town.
As he was driving on Strongs Avenue at about 8 p.m., Sullivan allegedly told investigators, he heard a “thud.”
“He advised that it was raining and his windshield wipers were on,” Abdelnour wrote. “He advised that he panicked and did not stop. He drove to the Hannaford’s parking lot in (Rutland Town), where he noticed that his car had damage to its hood and windshield.”
Sullivan then made a phone call to ask advice of his longtime legal partner, Rutland attorney Paul Kulig, according to court documents. Kulig, who was with Sullivan earlier in the evening, told Sullivan that an ambulance had arrived at the scene on Strongs Avenue and a person was taken to the hospital.
Sullivan then drove home and parked his car behind his garage, where it stayed until the next day when he went to the city police department with his attorney. At 1 p.m. on April 11, about 17 hours after the crash, Sullivan identified himself as the driver in the crash that killed Outslay.
“Mr. Sullivan would advise that he did not feel he was impaired or intoxicated at the time of the incident,” Abdelnour wrote.
Kulig could not be reached Wednesday.
Michael Kennedy, legal counsel for the Vermont Bar Association, and Cheryl Hanna, a professor with the Vermont Law School, were asked if Kulig had a duty to report Sullivan’s involvement in the crash on the night of the incident. Both said Sullivan’s conversation with Kulig was privileged due to attorney-client confidentiality.
The circumstances of the crash that killed Outslay, the well-known owner of a popular eatery in town, have outraged many in the community who have called for Sullivan’s arrest since the day he identified himself as the driver.
But Rutland Police Chief James Baker, and other police and prosecutors, have said that Sullivan was receiving no special treatment by remaining free during an investigation that police have said was intended to be thorough.
Sullivan served as city attorney — the city’s legal counsel — and deputy city attorney for 19 years until 2007.