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Burlington Free Press
Louis Fortier appears via video during his arraignment in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington on Thursday, March 30, 2017. Fortier is accused of fatally stabbing Richard Medina on Church Street in Burlington on Wednesday. GLENN RUSSELL/FREE PRESS
The suspect in Wednesday’s Church Street killing has a long history of mental illness, according to his sister.
Rose Fortier Sauray, who lives out of state, said her brother Louis Fortier had been admitted to the hospital numerous times for his illness, including 4 or 5 times in 2017. He was repeatedly “thrown back to the streets,” she wrote on Thursday.
Fortier, 36, is accused of fatally stabbing Richard Medina, 43, on Wednesday afternoon. State’s Attorney Sarah George charged Fortier with first-degree murder on Thursday, saying he intended to kill Medina. Fortier pleaded not guilty.
“When you look at the alleged killer’s criminal and mental health history, it’s incomprehensible that he was out on the streets,” said Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo.
Fortier has an extensive criminal record in Massachusetts, according to police, that includes arrests for assault with intent to murder, assault on a police officer, aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon, felony assault, carrying concealed weapons, receiving stolen vehicles, shoplifting, disorderly conduct and drinking in public. Fortier, whose sister said he came to Chittenden County about a month ago, was listed in a police report as a person of interest in March 8 mental health issue in South Burlington.
Sauray said she was certain her brother’s actions were the result of his mental illness. She said Fortier has a history of discontinuing use of his medications.
“The public should know that Louis is not a murderer but a victim of mental illness,” Sauray wrote.
Sauray said her brother was first diagnosed with mental illness in the early 90s. She declined to provide medical records, citing her brother’s privacy, and did not immediately reply to the question of whether her brother had sought treatment in Burlington.
Fortier, a native of the Boston area, had been in the city about one month, Sauray said, and had spoken highly to her about the city’s shelter services. She did not specify which shelters her brother had accessed.
She said her brother was a sweet man who could hold down a job while taking his medication but became another person when he stopped taking the medication.
“If our facilities were doing their jobs correctly he’d still be in a hospital not on the streets,” she said.
Contributing: Elizabeth Murray of the Burlington Free Press. Contact Jess Aloe at 802-660-1874 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @jess_aloe.