Double jeopardy laws mean Isaac Turnbaugh will remain a free man, state authorities believe, despite admitting to the murder of 24-year-old Declan Lyons as he stirred a pot of sauce outside a pizza restaurant.
Turnbaugh rang Randolph police last month to say he had shot Lyons in the head with a rifle and wished to surrender.
But law-enforcers concede they have few options after a Washington County jury found Turnbaugh, now 28, not guilty of first-degree murder in 2004.
'You only get one bite of the apple. It's double jeopardy,' Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell said, referring to the legal doctrine that says a defendant can be put on trial for a crime only once.
He added that after an acquittal: 'You can go out on the courthouse steps and confess, and the state can’t do anything.'
Sorrell’s office prosecuted the murder charge against Turnbaugh, who was 18 and living in Moretown, Vermont, at the time of the slaying.
He said the statute of limitations in which non-murder charges might be filed has expired, and the evidence would have to be something not used in the murder trial.
The confession is alleged in a police affidavit filed in connection with a charge that Turnbaugh, when taken in for questioning, struck a police officer in the jaw.