Bennington couple pleads not guilty in OD death

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BENNINGTON — Two Bennington residents have been held without bail after pleading not guilty on Monday to selling heroin resulting in the death of a 33-year-old Bennington woman.

George Guile, 51, and Jennifer Guile, 43, both face felony charges of manslaughter and selling heroin resulting in Amie Pero's death. Pero was reported unconscious in a taxi Friday morning and subsequently died Monday after being removed from life support.

George Guile also pleaded not guilty to three felony charges of selling heroin less than 200 milligrams, selling heroin 200 milligrams or more, and possessing 200 milligrams or more of the drug.

Both defendants are being held without bail; George Guile at Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility and Jennifer Guile at Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility.

Victim overdose

A driver for Walt's Taxi brought Pero to the side parking lot of the Bennington Police Station around 10:24 a.m. Friday after Pero slumped over, unconscious, onto him, according to an affidavit written by BPD Detective Cpl. Christopher Lauzon.

Officers removed Pero from the taxi and immediately administered Narcan and began performing CPR. Shortly after, Bennington Rescue responded and transported Pero to the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, where she was treated for a drug overdose. Later that day, she was placed on life support and transported via Med Flight to Albany Medical Center in New York, where she remained in critical condition.

On Monday, March 4, Pero's mother told police that doctors determined on Sunday that Pero had no brain activity and was suffering from "severe seizures," according to the affidavit. Pero's mother made the decision to remove Pero from life support around 6 p.m. Sunday, and Pero died around 9 a.m. Monday.

All of Pero's personal belongings, including her cell phone, were collected by police from the taxi and the taxi driver gave statements to police.

Drug purchase

As rescue personnel performed CPR on Pero, Lauzon interviewed the taxi driver, who told Lauzon that Pero called at 9:50 a.m. to be picked up at 110 Scott St.

The driver told Lauzon that when he picked up Pero, she asked if he could see that she was shaking and told him that she had been in the hospital the previous night.

An older man wearing glasses approached the taxi in front of the Scott Street residence and handed an "unknown amount of money" to Pero, the affidavit states. Pero asked to be taken to the Autumn Inn on Main Street in Bennington.

The driver took Pero to the inn and saw her enter Room 126, where the Guiles live. She stayed in the room for about five minutes, and then was helped down the stairs by a woman, later identified as Guile, who stopped at the bottom of the stairs and did not approach the taxi, the driver told Lauzon.

When Pero got back in the taxi, she told the driver he could take her back home. During the ride, Pero told him she wasn't feeling well and asked to be driven to the hospital, the affidavit states.

Shortly after the driver turned onto Union Street, Pero slumped over onto him and he drove directly to the police station to get help.

Interviews

The same day, Lauzon asked BPD Sgt. Jason Burnham to go to room #126 at Autumn Inn and interview the woman who walked Pero down the stairs. Burnham was greeted by George Guile, who was recognized by police from previous contact, and Jennifer Guile.

George Guile admitted to Burnham that Pero "didn't look too great" and said she had just been released from the hospital for pancreas and liver problems, states the affidavit.

Also on Friday, a friend of Pero contacted Detective Sgt. Larry Cole and told him she had spoken with Pero earlier in the morning because Pero was scheduled to enter a rehabilitation facility later that day. The friend said Pero told her she was in pain and said she had to "fix the pain" despite the friend telling her "don't do it," police said.

Pero told the friend when she was in the Autumn Inn room Friday morning, and the friend told Pero she would be there quickly. The friend told police that while she was on the phone with Pero, she heard Pero ask for a straw and then heard her snort something.

The friend immediately grabbed Narcan and drove to Scott Street to meet Pero, she told police.

On Friday, Cole met with Pero's boyfriend, who told police Pero was communicating with Jennifer Guile on Facebook Messenger and saw a message from Guile that she had "[four] bags left at $15 per bag."

Text messages

Around 4:25 p.m. Friday, Judge William D. Cohen signed a search warrant for Pero's cell phone. Cole and Lauzon examined multiple text messages sent and received between Pero and Jennifer Guile; the conversation began Friday at 7:21 a.m.

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The series of text messages between Pero and Guile, as stated in the affidavit, show Pero asking if the Guiles have "bags." Guile told Pero she thought Pero stopped "that sh--."

Pero responds that she needs to "get rid of the pain" and can't find pills. Guile responds "Got 4 and there [sic] 15 a piece babe."

Pero asks about the size and quality, and the two talk about when Pero should pick them up. Pero asks if she can "just sniff it," and Guile responds that she can sniff the pills when she arrives.

Search warrant

Cohen also authorized a search warrant for Room 126 at the Autumn Inn, and the warrant was executed around 9 p.m. Friday. Both Guiles were present; Jennifer Guile was taken into custody, and George Guile was detained, police say.

Before George Guile got into the police cruiser, police searched him. Guile told police that he had heroin on him, and police found a brick of heroin (approximately 100 bags) and four bundles of heroin consisting of 40 bags.

A search of the Guiles' room yielded the following:

- Various empty heroin bags

- A rolled-up dollar bill (presumably used to snort substances)

- Seven marijuana pipes

- Three cell phones

- A box containing a plastic straw

- Two crack pipes

- Three razor blades, a screwdriver and a piece of metal

- One copper "Chore Boy" pad (presumably used to act as a filter in a crack pipe)

- One prescription bottle with a straw

- 1 Lyrica capsules and a Tylenol bottle with two orange pills.

Jennifer Guile waived her Miranda rights and spoke with Cole. She confirmed that Pero came into the hotel room that morning to purchase heroin, and George Guile handed Pero three bags of heroin. Jennifer collected $45 from Pero and handed Pero a rolled-up dollar bill, which Pero used to snort the drug.

George Guile also waived his Miranda rights and provided Cole with three "varying accounts" of the interaction with Pero, "none of which were consistent," states the affidavit.

On Friday, Judge John Valente imposed conditions of release on Jennifer Guile, including the condition that she come to court for her arraignment on March 4. He also found probable cause for the 48-hour rule, which allows a person suspected of a felony to be held for up to 48 hours without being charged.

George Guile has a criminal history in Vermont, including arrests for driving under the influence of drugs and possession of cocaine, police say. He was also a recent target of two controlled purchases of heroin by a "cooperating individual," states the affidavit.

Police say Jennifer Guile also has criminal history in Vermont but did not specify what the history entails.

The Guiles have been ordered to not have contact with any witnesses or confidential informants relating to the case.

Jennifer Guile's next court appearance is a weight of evidence hearing set for March 20 at 2:45 p.m., according to the docket sheet. George Guile is set for a bail review and weight of evidence hearing, but no date has been set yet.

Christie Wisniewski can be reached at cwisniewski@benningtonbanner.com and at 802-447-7567, ext. 111.


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