Pleas filed in Auclair case; Kory Lee George held without bail

BURLINGTON — Monkton resident and five-time convicted felon Kory Lee George, 31, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of firearms violations, including possession of the Beretta pistol that police say was used to kill his stepfather, David Auclair.

Auclair, 45, a longtime Monkton resident, was shot to death in the parking lot of the LaPlatte Headwaters Town Forest, off Gilman Road in Hinesburg, at approximately 9:45 p.m. on July 11, police say. No one has been charged with killing Auclair, and police have yet to name a suspect in that case.

On Sept. 5 George was charged in U.S. District Court in Burlington with possession of the Beretta — which Vermont State Police (VSP) say he stole from a Colchester residence on July 10, the day before Auclair was killed — and with possessing a stolen 12-gauge shotgun, which police recovered from his trailer on Aug. 2 during the execution of a search warrant.

At George’s arraignment on Sept. 6, U.S. Magistrate John M. Conroy ordered the defendant be detained until trial because of his past criminal history, which includes violence or use of weapons, prior failure to appear in court and prior violations of probation, parole or supervised release. 

George has five felony convictions in the state of Vermont, according to the criminal complaint: escape, assault and robbery with a weapon, grand larceny, burglary and burglary of an occupied dwelling.

NEW SEARCH WARRANT

On the same day George was arraigned, prosecutors asked the judge for permission to search a 2011 Harley-Davidson motorcycle that, according to court documents, is now registered to George and his mother, Angela Auclair, who was married to David Auclair at the time of his death. 

The motorcycle, which is now in VSP custody, had previously been registered to David Auclair.

According to an affidavit filed by Benjamin Cohen, a special agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), there was probable cause to believe the motorcycle’s saddlebags and other storage may contain evidence that George “was involved in the illicit sale of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) products.” THC is the psychoactive component of marijuana.

Cohen in his affidavit cited witness accounts recorded during the VSP investigation and the Sept. 5 affidavit of VSP Trooper Crista Maurice, who reported that a trained K9 she deployed for an off-lead free search in the garage where George’s motorcycle was stored “had alerted to the presence of drugs in the Subject Vehicle.”

“I am further informed that in interviews with (Vermont State Police on July 12 and 17) George indicated that he used and sold THC products, and had been involved in the sale of vape cartridges containing THC oil,” Cohen said.

The ATF agent also believed there was probable cause to search the motorcycle for guns and/or ammunition.

A search and seizure warrant was listed as “returned executed” on Sept. 10, but no new charges have been filed against George.

FAMILY CONFLICT

Not long before George was arrested on Sept. 4, he was involved in another legal action — this time as a plaintiff.

On July 31, according to documents obtained from Chittenden County Family Court, George and his mother, Angela Auclair, filed separate Relief from Abuse complaints against Kory’s brother (and Angela’s son) Thomas J. (“T. J.”) George, 24, of Monkton.

T. J. George hired an attorney and contested both complaints in court and both were eventually withdrawn.

During a phone interview with the Independentin which he referred to his stepfather David Auclair as “my dad” and to the Relief from Abuse complaints as “restraining orders,” T. J. said he felt like his brother and mother were trying to silence him and keep him from cooperating with the homicide investigation.

“(At first) I thought about it and I was like, Well, I don’t care if I have a restraining order — I don’t want to talk to them, I don’t want to be around them, nothing,” he said. “And then I thought about it and (realized) the police couldn’t talk to me anymore ... that’s why (Kory George and Angela Auclair) filed these restraining orders on me, so I would shut up.”

T. J. has maintained an active presence on Facebook since the shooting death of his stepfather and has posted several times about the ongoing homicide investigation.

Hints of conflict among Auclair’s family and friends began appearing in social media soon after the homicide.

On July 19, the day before David Auclair’s Funeral Mass at St. John Vianney Church in South Burlington, his sister, Melisa Semprebon, made a public plea for peace.

“Please remember that today’s wake and tomorrow’s funeral are about David,” she wrote on Facebook. “Bring your love and respect for him. Leave all speculations and negativity out if it. No drama please. Just come to honor the wonderful man we all knew and love.”

Semprebon did not immediately respond to the Independent’s request for comment.

FUNERAL ALTERCATION

On the morning of Auclair’s Funeral Mass, the South Burlington Police Department (SBPD) stationed officers in the vicinity of the church, anticipating that there would be “a problem,” SBPD Chief Shawn Burke told the Independentin an email.

Some kind of problem appears to have arisen, because according to Burke five SBPD officers responded to a report of a disturbance among Auclair Funeral Mass attendees at the church.

“Two of the sons had a physical altercation but refused to provide formal statements,” he said. “We arrived at the scene of the altercation as other attendees broke it up. There was not sufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges.”

Burke did not immediately respond to the Independent’s follow-up questions about the identities of those involved in the altercation, whether or not the SBPD had actually observed the altercation or how the SBPD anticipated that there might be “a problem” at the Funeral Mass.

Father Tim Naples of St. John Vianney’s Church, who celebrated David Auclair’s Funeral Mass, declined to comment for this story.

Eleven days later, Angela Auclair referred to the incident in an affidavit filed in support of her Relief from Abuse complaint, in which she accused T. J. George of punching his 16-year-old half-brother. 

Angela Auclair’s and Kory Lee George’s complaints both accuse T. J. of sending them threatening text messages and of attempting to run them off the road. Court documents contain no indication that evidence for the charges was ever submitted by the plaintiffs or that T.J.’s half-brother ever testified on behalf of his mother’s complaint.

Kory Lee George withdrew his complaint on Aug. 22 “to avoid (a) hearing without tangible evidence,” according court documents, which also indicate that George’s cellphone was being held by police.

After obtaining two extensions, Angela Auclair withdrew her complaint on Sept. 11, the day before the scheduled hearing. No reason was given.

Her attorney, Robert L. Sussman of the Burlington law firm Blodgett, Watts, Volk & Sawyer, did not immediately respond to the Independent’s request for comment.

On Sept. 12, Bernadette Paquette, who was a longtime friend of David Auclair, set up a GoFundMe campaign to help offset T. J. George’s legal fees. The campaign raised $895 over five days.

“I check in with (T. J.) a hundred times a day,” she said. “I know he was struggling with that whole thing.”

Like many people, Paquette felt heartbroken about David Auclair’s death.

“No matter who you talk to, they’re all going to say the same thing,” she told the Independentin a phone interview. “Dave was the person that they could turn to, that they could cry on, they could shout at, they could vent to. No matter what, he was always there.”

Reach Christopher Ross at christopherr@addisonindependent.com.

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