BURLINGTON, Vt. – Dr. Reena Kapoor started as a skeptic.
In fact, she was hired by the prosecution to evaluate Steven Bourgoin’s mental state at the time of two October 8, 2016 crashes that killed five teenagers and injured several others.
“I like most people thought this was a little bit ridiculous,” she said in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington Wednesday.
However, after meeting with Bourgoin for nearly 13 hours over three visits, Dr. Kapoor found his reports of secret government mission delusions credible and in line with what other people who have psychosis experience.
So, state’s attorney Sarah George did not have her write a report and Dr. Kapoor became a witness for the defense.
“He was under a tremendous amount of stress related to financial problems and his custody arrangement with his daughter and those stressors then triggered a psychotic episode,” she testified about Bourgoin.
Dr. Kapoor testified that Bourgoin experienced psychosis, delusions, some hallucinations and ideas of reference, which means everyday things in the environment, like songs on the radio, were meant to send him a message.
Dr. Kapoor diagnosed Bourgoin with personality disorder with traits of paranoia and borderline personality.
“They can’t really control their symptoms of depression or anger or rage,” said Dr. Kapoor.
Dr. Kapoor was the second forensic psychiatrist to testify Bourgoin was psychotic when he drove the wrong-way on I-89 and crashed his truck into a car carrying five teenagers: Mary Harris, Cyrus Zschau, Eli Brookens, Janie Chase Cozzi and Liam Hale.
Dr. David Rosmarin called Bourgoin “grossly psychotic” on the night of the crash.
Dr. Rosmarin believes Bourgoin has bipolar disorder.
This case was a tough one for Dr. Kapoor, she says.
“The facts are absolutely tragic,” said Dr. Kapoor. “There was a tremendous loss of life. I think in addition to that there was a credible alternate theory of what happened.”
Dr. Kapoor said Bourgoin’s regular use of marijuana and THC could have been a contributing factor in his psychosis and there is evidence to support he was suicidal.
Two opinions that contradict Dr. Rosmarin’s.
State’s attorney Sarah George asked Dr. Kapoor about comments Bourgoin made to his friend about losing custody of his daughter.
By the time of the crash, Bourgoin could spend just one hour a week with her at her gymnastics class.
“If he loses his daughter he was going to go off the deep end and said something about getting a rifle and going around shooting everyone in sight, correct?” asked George.
“Yes and she thought he was joking at the time,” said Dr. Kapoor.
“He also told her that he’d just go crazy and do something dramatic, correct?” asked George.
“Yes,” replied Dr. Kapoor.
After Dr. Kapoor, the state launched its case to rebuke the insanity defense.
The defense rested but, for scheduling reasons, will call one more witness Thursday morning.
The prosecution’s first witness was Dr. Vincent Garbitelli, who came upon the crash scene and treated Bourgoin until he was taken to the hospital, including taking his blood pressure and assessing his injuries.
“Was this man in an acute psychotic episode?” asked deputy state’s attorney Susan Hardin.
“Absolutely not,” replied Dr. Garbitelli.
“Was he out of touch with reality?” asked Hardin.
“Absolutely not,” answered Dr. Garbitelli.
“Was he hallucinating?” asked Hardin.
“He was not hallucinating,” said Dr. Garbitelli.
“Was he delusional?” asked Hardin.
“He was not delusional,” replied Dr. Garbitelli.
However, Dr. Garbitelli did tell police Bourgoin was delirious, intermittently confused and impaired.
He said he was concerned Bourgoin had suffered a concussion.
He also said Bourgoin tried to “jump up and run” when his asked officers to take off his handcuffs.
Other testimony came from Bourgoin’s former coworkers at Lake Champlain Chocolates.
Some testified Bourgoin seemed distraught by the end of his employment there, others said his behavior did not change.
The day before the crash, October 7, 2016, Bourgoin punched out at 12:04am and never returned.
He spoke to a supervisor, Christine Fabian, on the phone later that day.
“He just didn’t feel well. He said something about his stomach hurt and shortly after that he also said he just didn’t feel like he was the right person for the position,” she said.
Tuesday’s lineup includes the defense’s cell phone tower mapping expert witness.
The state will be calling its own digital forensic experts.