BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — The family of a woman strangled by her husband nearly three decades ago in Vermont is handling the sudden news that her killer could go free soon under a deal struck with prosecutors.
Gregory Fitzgerald, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of Amy Fitzgerald, contended his defense attorney neglected to tell him about a plea deal that would have reduced his sentence.
Faced with another appeal, and no way of knowing what Gregory Fitzgerald was told, the case was settled this month.
Terms tracked with the original plea deal. His sentence was reduced to 35 years to life in prison in exchange for him taking responsibility.
With time off for good behavior, the 64-year-old could be released from the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield, Vermont, in six to nine months, officials said.
The victim’s brother, Alan Zeltserman, told WCAX-TV, which first reported the deal, said Gregory Fitzgerald was responsible for a “cold-blooded, calculated murder” that took his sister away and destroyed the lives of his parents.
“I’m just completely tired and devastated, and extremely disappointed in the state’s attorney’s office with the way this matter was handled,” he later told The Boston Globe. “It’s just a horrible feeling,” he said.
At the time of the killing, the two natives of Newton, Massachusetts, were attending college in different states while getting graduate degrees.
She was an Army captain and veteran of the Persian Gulf War who was studying health technology at the University of Vermont and “was on her way up the ranks in the Army,” her brother said.
Her husband was supposed to be studying at the University of Texas at San Antonio. In reality, he was kicked out and was living a double life with a 22-year-old girlfriend when he traveled to Vermont to kill his wife, prosecutors said. Investigators were able to piece together the multistate murder scheme involving plane trips, rental cars and dual identities.
Her body was found in the bathtub of her home in Shelburne in May 1993. Her family suspects Gregory Fitzgerald killed her because he stood to collect about $100,000 in military benefits.
A jury convicted Fitzgerald of first-degree murder in 1994. Since then, he has filed more than two dozen appeals and claims. But he agreed to end all appeals with the plea agreement reached on Jan. 12.
Zeltserman labeled Gregory Fitzgerald is a master manipulator who maneuvered his way out of prison.
But Chittenden County State Attorney Sarah George said it was a just resolution because there was no way to prove whether or not Gregory Fitzgerald knew about the plea agreement proposal.
Fitzgerald’s current lawyer, Mark Furland, said his client has genuine remorse, accepted responsibility and professes to be a changed person.