Prosecutors today charged Jose Pazos with first degree murder in the October 18 killing of Burlington resident Kathleen Smith, and said a years-old grudge about a custody fight was his motive. The evidence that led police to suspect Pazos included rope used to tie Smith's hands, DNA found on a knife used in the crime and bootprints in the kitchen of her Park Street home.
Gruesome details of what prosecutors say was a pre-mediated murder pop from the pages of a police affidavit released today following Pazos' arraignment in Chittenden Superior Court. Pazos, a 45-year-old immigrant from Uruguay who lived in a homeless camp behind a Burlington gas station, pleaded not guilty to charges of murder (which carries a sentence of 35 years to life), kidnapping, burglary and aggravated vehicle operation without owner consent.
Download Pazos_affidavit to read the blow-by-blow of what led police to suspect Pazos [WARNING: This file contains graphic details of the investigation.]. In this video, Donovan and Burlington police spokeswoman Lt. Jennifer Morrison explain the state's case against Pazos.
Prosecutors allege Pazos (pictured) was motivated by a grudge he held against Smith, who was an acquaintance. Donovan said Pazos was in a custody fight years ago, and Smith took the side of the mother of Pazos' child. Donovan couldn't say what allegedly made Pazos act on the years-old grudge now.
Pazos is being held without bail pending his next hearing.
Photo by Emily McManamy