A daughter and mother may finally plead guilty to murdering the younger woman’s former boyfriend. Plea negotiations have fallen apart before, but for now, Erika Guttilla, 35, and Carmen Guttilla, 64, are scheduled for change of plea hearing to take place March 10 and 11 for killing Troy Ford, 35.
Under the deal, they will have to accept responsibility for a charge of second-degree murder in exchange for prosecutors in Franklin County, Vermont, requesting sentences of up to 20 years to life in prison, according to the VTDigger. The women can argue for a shorter punishment.
All of assumes that the defendants will proceed to the March hearings without suddenly backing out and reversing course. Plea negotiations have been touch and go for a while now, with efforts in Carmen’s case falling apart in September.
“It was essentially a cooperation agreement, but the state needed some assurance that the defendant wouldn’t be changing her testimony after trial,” Deputy State’s Attorney John Lavoie reportedly said at the time. “That’s the point at which things fell apart.”
Erika Guttilla shot Ford in the head as he slept in November 2017, prosecutors have said. She and her mother agreed he “had to go” because he was abusing the family, plying them with drugs, and sexually abusing Erika, according to this version of events. Daughter and mother allegedly rolled the victim’s body into a carpet and stored it on the back porch for weeks, perhaps months, before moving it mid-winter a quarter-mile away. Prosecutors had pushed for both women to face trial together, saying that the facts marshaled against them would have been the same.
Nobody reported Ford missing because he had a rocky relationship with his family in New York and had not spoken to his sister since going to prison Vermont, according to detectives in a NECN report.
That sister, Raquel Ford, denied the abuse allegations against her slain brother, questioning why the women did not call police that if Troy was doing all of those horrible things. She suggested it was easier to stereotype her brother, who was Black, in a mostly white state like Vermont.
“He didn’t deserve to be thrown away like he was trash,” she said in a tearful interview with The Burlington Free Press.
Dog-walkers found Ford’s remains on May 6, 2018. Police arrested Erika Guttilla and her then-boyfriend Corey Cassani, 31, after a brief search.
UPDATE: This afternoon in Swanton, @VTStatePolice investigators located the vehicle connected to the suspects in the Highgate homicide. We continue to seek Erika Guttilla and Corey Cassani. Tips: 802-524-5993 pic.twitter.com/YKY63coM6Z
— Adam Silverman (@Wej12) May 7, 2018
Police are looking for Erika Guttilla and Corey Cassani in connection to the murder of Troy Ford, 35. Ford’s remains were found this weekend. Police say he was killed months ago. Guttilla’s mother, Carmen, is expected in court this afternoon. https://t.co/5JAAPvRuId #vt pic.twitter.com/LIA8nUNuZU
— Staci DaSilva (@WFLAStaci) May 7, 2018
Cassani pleaded guilty in 2019 to being an accessory after the fact, and was sentenced to three to seven years in prison.
“Helping to throw away somebody’s body just violates every standard of human decency,” Judge A. Gregory Rainville said during the sentencing, according to The VTDigger. “He was a human being.”
[Screenshot of Erika Guttilla via WPTZ; and booking photo of Carmen Gutilla via Vermont State Police]
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