Man Pleads Not Guilty To Charges In Killing Of 2 In Vermont

A Hartford, Connecticut, man was arraigned Wednesday on two counts of aggravated murder in the killing of two people in the rural Vermont town of Woodbury more than three years ago.

The attorney for Manuel Gomez, 32, entered not guilty pleas on his behalf during an appearance Wednesday in Vermont Superior Court in Barre. Bail was set at $750,000.

If convicted on a charge of aggravated murder, Gomez will face an automatic sentence of life without parole.

Gomez was charged in connection with the Oct. 30, 2018, deaths of Carol Fradette, 29, and David Thompson, 48, at their homes. Fradette was described in court documents as Thompson's girlfriend. She lived in an upstairs apartment in a building on the Woodbury property while Thompson lived in a separate residence on the same property.

Investigators found human remains at both locations. Both victims had been shot to death and their residences set on fire. The fires were believed to have been set to conceal the killings.

Police say Gomez was selling large quantities of heroin to Thompson, and that Thompson owed Gomez more than $20,000.

In interviews with police after the killings, family, friends and associates of the two victims found that Thompson had been heavily involved in selling heroin and crack cocaine in the Woodbury area for many years. They also said Thompson wanted to get out of the drug business, but he owed someone a lot of money.

In an affidavit filed with the court, police say Gomez denied any involvement in the two killings, but detectives linked Gomez to the scene through a cellphone found at the scene that had traveled between Hartford, Connecticut, and Woodbury the day of the killings, as well as through traces of DNA found on the phone and other digital and physical evidence.