Accused Killer Lavalette Extradited - The Caledonian-Record - St. Johnsbury, VT
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home : top news : top news February 6, 2016

7/9/2013 9:57:00 AM
Accused Killer Lavalette Extradited
Peter Lavalette
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Peter Lavalette

Jennifer Hersey Cleveland
Staff Writer

NEWPORT CITY -- The sex offender accused of killing a New York movie stage builder at his Westfield home has waived extradition, and the affidavit filed by police indicates that the shooting was intentional.

Orleans County State's Attorney Alan Franklin said that Peter Lavalette, 49, of Jay, waived his right to further hearings in Jasper County, Ind., on Friday.

A team of drivers from the Vermont State Police left Monday to retrieve Lavalette and bring him back to Vermont for arraignment on a second-degree murder charge in the shooting death of George Kouzoujian, 61.

The affidavit does not indicate Lavalette's motive for the murder.

Lavalette is facing a minimum of 20 years in jail if convicted, and a maximum of life behind bars.

The state police team will travel nearly 1,000 miles each way and is expected to have Lavalette back for arraignment mid-week, Franklin said. The prosecutor said he believes the police will be bringing back Kouzoujian's car, which Lavalette was driving when stopped.

Judge Howard VanBenthuysen issued an arrest warrant for Lavalette with $1 million bail set. Lavalette is also facing a probation violation here and two felonies and a misdemeanor in Indiana for drunken driving, driving with a breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of more than .15 percent, and driving after suspension.

The arrest warrant indicates that Lavalette's last known residence was at Kouzoujian's home on Fuller Road and that he was last known to be employed at Jay Peak Resort.

According to Det. Sgt. Kelley Clark's affidavit, the murder took place June 28.

Jasper County Sheriff's deputy Kevin Lewis stopped Lavalette on July 1, which would have marked Kouzoujian's 62nd birthday, for driving left of the center of the road.

After Lavalette blew a .230 percent BAC, Lewis processed him for the three offenses. Lavalette allegedly told Lewis that he'd killed a man in Vermont.

Lavalette told authorities in Indiana that he'd knocked on the door of a commercial trailer located behind Kouzoujian's home, and when Kouzoujian opened the door, shot him four or five times with a .22 handgun, which could be seen in Kouzoujian's white Ford Focus.

In an interview with Jasper County Det. Michael Myers, Lavalette described Kouzoujian as his friend.

Lavalette said he placed Kouzoujian's body on a bed in the trailer and then padlocked the door shut.

Vermont State Police Det. Sgt. Fred Cornell spoke with Myers, who said Lavalette had admitted he'd stolen Kouzoujian's car, easy pass, and credit card.

Several Vermont troopers went to Kouzoujian's residence. They entered one of the trailers through a side door, and immediately saw Kouzoujian's foot, which was dark purple, dangling from the bed.

Clark wrote that there was a large pool of blood on the bed near Kouzoujian's head and numerous insects on the parts of his body that had not been covered with blankets.

Kouzoujian was a carpenter and foreman who worked on sets for major motion pictures like "Ironweed," "Malcolm X," "Crocodile Dundee II," and "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."

He lived on West 22nd Street in New York City and was a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 52 NY.

Lavalette, whose criminal file lists previous addresses in St. Johnsbury, Newport Center, Orleans, Derby, and Stowe, has a fairly long criminal record, including a 2002 conviction for lewd and lascivious conduct stemming from an incident in which he groped a 13-year-old boy and fondled his own genitals in front of the boy.

In 2012, he was convicted of failing to comply with the sex offender registry and drunken driving. In 2008 he was convicted of simple assault, disturbing the peace by phone and threatening harm, negligent operation and unlawful mischief. He's also been convicted of disorderly conduct, amended from domestic assault, violating an abuse prevention order, and possessing marijuana.

Lavalette, who has tattoos of a unicorn, a bird, a tongue and the word "Tom," has received unsatisfactory discharges from probation due to new charges being filed against him.

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