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Vt. Supreme Court upholds conviction in teen killing.

Byline: Wilson Ring

MONTPELIER, Vt. -- The Vermont Supreme Court on Friday upheld the murder conviction of a woman who stabbed her niece to death, ruling the trial judge was correct to instruct the jury not to consider the woman's mental capacity when the crime took place.

In its 4-1 decision in the case of Latonia Congress, the court said it was reconciling different aspects of how Vermont law has used ''diminished capacity'' evidence in homicide prosecutions.

''We conclude that the trial court correctly declined to instruct the jury that it could consider the evidence of defendant's psychological condition as a basis for convicting her of voluntary manslaughter,'' said the majority decision written by Justice Beth Robinson.

The case stems from the 2009 killing of Shatavia ''CeCe'' Alford, 16, by Congress in their Essex Junction home.

Congress' attorneys had argued her mental capacity had been diminished by a long history of abuse.

They asked the judge to tell the jury it could consider convicting her of voluntary manslaughter.

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Author:Ring, Wilson
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Geographic Code:1U1VT
Date:Dec 6, 2014
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