RUTLAND, Vt. (AP) – A Vermont farmer has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing his daughter’s boyfriend and burying his body beneath a manure pile.

Stephen Pelletier, 62, last year agreed to plead no contest to second-degree murder in a plea deal, according to the Rutland Herald (

Prosecutors said the Castleton man shot Michael Wisell, 25, on Pelletier’s farm in May 2014 while the two were stacking firewood. Investigators said Pelletier told them Wisell, of Hubbardton, Vermont, had been physically abusive to his daughter.

Judge Cortland Corsones said Tuesday that he was initially inclined to reject the plea deal to send a message that people should not take the law into their own hands. He noted that Pelletier never sought police help or a restraining order before shooting Wisell, who lived with the family.

But he said without the plea deal, a pending motion to suppress statements Pelletier made to police would advance.

John Treadwell, an assistant attorney general, said Pelletier treated Wisell “like he would a cow’s carcass.” He said he shot him in the back, turned him over and shot him in the head, and then cut his throat after he was dead.

Wisell was described during the sentencing hearing as a violent man, who introduced his girlfriend to heroin and repeatedly threatened to kill her and her family.

Wisell’s family strongly disagreed with the descriptions of Wisell, saying he was a kind and funny man who should have been given a chance to improve his life.

Pelletier apologized on Tuesday.

“I gave into anger and did something terrible,” he said. “I tried to reach Mike and failed.”


Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.


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