VT woman pleads not guilty to killing 2 cousins, aunt

Defendant Jody Herring, center, of Barre Town, Vt., is flanked by defense attorneys Kelly Green, left, and David Sleigh at her arraignment in Washington County Criminal Court in Barre, Vt., Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015. Herring entered a not guilty plea on aggravated murder charges in the deaths of her 43-year-old cousin, Regina Herring, her 48-year-old cousin, Rhonda Herring, and her 73-year-old aunt, Julie Falzarano. Herring has already pleaded not guilty at another hearing to the shooting death of social worker Lara Sobel on Aug. 7 outside a state office building. (Stefan Hard/Times Argus via AP, Pool)

BARRE, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont woman accused of killing a state social worker and three relatives because she was upset about losing custody of her 9-year-old daughter pleaded not guilty Tuesday in the deaths of her relatives.

Jody Herring is charged with aggravated murder in the Aug. 7 deaths of two of her cousins — Regina Herring, 43, and Rhonda Herring, 48 and an aunt, Julie Falzarano, 73.

Herring, of South Barre, already has pleaded not guilty in the shooting death of social worker Lara Sobel outside a state office building in Barre on the same day.

In court documents released last week, a former boyfriend of Herring’s told police she had a “hit list” of people to target before she shot her relatives and Sobel and had made comments about how “people are going to pay” and “there’s going to be an Armageddon” regarding visitation rights for her daughter.

A judge on Tuesday ordered Herring to not contact any member of the victims’ families or employees of the Vermont Department for Children and Families, where Sobel worked. She also is forbidden from contacting her mother, daughter, two former boyfriends, and nine other people.

Police say Herring went to her relatives’ home and “progressed from room to room … murdering Rhonda, Regina and Julie individually within a short period of time.” Herring then went to Barre where she used the same rifle to shoot Sobel as she exited a state office building, police said.

Police did not discover her relatives’ bodies until the following day in their Berlin home.

While in custody in Sobel’s death, Herring asked police, “What about the other three? The way I look at it, they … deserved it too,” she said, according to the police affidavit.

Defense attorney David Sleigh said a Vermont State Police detective violated Herring’s rights by trying to interrogate her without her lawyer present. Both sides said they would fight that issue in court.

“We look forward to defending the very good work of the Barre PD, Vermont State Police, Berlin PD and other law enforcement in the case,” Attorney General William Sorrell said.

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