Judge reduces bail for ailing 80-year-old suspect in double murder from $200,000 to $20,000

Judge reduces bail for ailing 80-year-old suspect in double murder from $200,000 to $20,000
Judge reduces bail for ailing 80-year-old suspect in double murder from $200,000 to $20,000

Michael Louise attends a Vermont Superior Court hearing from a state correctional facility on Oct. 28, 2022. Screenshot

A judge has agreed to reduce bail for an 80-year-old defendant in a double murder case dating back more than three decades.

Judge Cortland Corsones, in a written decision late last month, changed Michael Louise’s bail from $200,000 to $20,000, although Louise has yet to post the lower amount. The judge’s ruling follows a hearing in which Louise’s attorney reported that his client was not a flight risk because he was seriously ill, staying in a medical facility, and had been unable to walk on his behalf.

Louise, of Liverpool, New York, is accused of fatally stabbing his wife’s parents, Catherine and George Peacock, in Danby in 1989. They were 73 and 76 years old. Charged in October 2022 with second-degree murder, Louise has pleaded not guilty.

“The court finds that the defendant’s health decline represents a material change in circumstances, which reduces, but does not eliminate, his risk of flight,” Corsones wrote in his bail ruling, adding, “The risk has been lessened because the defendant remains in need of acute nursing and rehabilitative care on a 24/7 basis in an acute care facility.”

Citing privacy considerations, the parties did not reveal the exact nature of Louise’s medical condition.

Daniel Sedon, an attorney representing Louise, asked during last month’s hearing for bail of roughly $10,000 for his client, while Deputy State’s Attorney Jared Bianchi, the prosecutor, urged the judge to keep it at $200,000.

Louise had been incarcerated for lack of bail since her arrest last year. He was moved to a medical facility in late July, and he has remained in one ever since.

Because Louise has not posted bail he remains in the custody of the Vermont Department of Corrections, requiring correctional staff to be with him 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

It’s cost the corrections department roughly $222,000 in staff time to supervise Louise since her hospitalization, according to Haley Sommer, a department spokesperson.

The department has also been working to stand up a team of corrections staff specifically assigned to the task of hospital coverage, which is launching Monday, Sommer said.

As a result, Sommer said, the department will no longer have to pay overtime to staff who have been supervising Louise, reducing the expense.

Vermont State Police arrested Louise 33 years after the Danby couple were fatally stabbed. Prosecutors cited advances in DNA technology that had resulted in new evidence identifying Louise as the alleged killer. That new evidence, according to court charging documents, was a spot of blood from inside Louise’s car that matched George Peacock’s blood.

Sedon, Louise’s attorney, has contended that investigators were overzealous in zeroing in on his client and has filed a motion to have the case dismissed.

Reached Monday, Sedon said the $20,000 bail set by the judge was “much more reasonable” than the original amount.

Asked if he expected his client to post the reduced amount, the defense attorney replied, “I can’t answer that right now, I think his family is working on it.”

Bianchi, the prosecutor, declined to comment.

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