Federal prosecutors say there are a large number of un-indicted co-conspirators still under investigation in connection with the homicide of Michael Pimental.
Pimental, 37, was found dead off Victory Road in Concord on Oct. 14, 2018. He had been shot multiple times in the head and torso. The state medical examiner has ruled his death a homicide, but have not revealed the location of the shooting. Pimental’s girlfriend, Krystal Whitcomb has implicated her father and another man in the shooting.
Krystal Whitcomb, 27, and Shawn Whitcomb, 51, were arrested following an investigation by the Vermont Drug Task Force targeting them and Pimental. Both pleaded not guilty to drug charges in U.S. District Court in Burlington and are being held in pre-trial detention.
U.S. District Court
But prosecutors say the investigation into the alleged drug charges and the Pimental homicide have become so intertwined that they want to slow down the process, postpone pre-trial motions for six months and pause the speedy trial clock. Prosecutors argue that the delay is especially needed because future charges could carry the federal death penalty.
“In all federal cases in which a defendant is charged, or could be charged with an offense subject to the death penalty, the attorney general makes the final decision about whether or not to seek the death penalty,” wrote federal prosecutors in their motion to have the case designated as “complex,” filed in U.S. District Court in Burlington this month. “This process, from start to finish, is time consuming.”
“In light of the gravity of the current charges, the ongoing investigation into the homicide and other crimes related to the homicide, the number of defendants and still un-indicted co-conspirators, and the need to possibly comply with the Capital Case Unit process before indictment, the government requests the Court designate this case as complex …”
In November of 2018, a federal grand jury returned a 10-count superseding indictment charging the Whitcombs with a variety of drug and firearms offenses. There were no homicide-related charges in the indictment, but federal authorities say the government’s investigation has continued and “several crimes are still under investigation” including those that carry the death penalty.
“No final decisions have been made at this point regarding the charges the government will seek,” wrote prosecutors in their motion. “However, (one) of the crimes under investigation could subject the defendants to the death penalty if charged …”
Federal prosecutors say the government has consulted with the defendants about their motion and that Krystal Whitcombs and co-defendant Michael Hayes do not object. However the attorney representing Shawn Whitcomb is opposing the motion saying the problem is government “foot dragging” and not the defendants.
“Although the government alludes to ‘a large number of … un-indicted co-conspirators,’ the government does not explain how uncharged co-conspirators affect the parties ability to prepare for trial,” wrote defense attorney Alex Nelson, Esq. in his response. “A six month extension seems particularly unfair …”(The government) has dragged its feet over the past half-year. Put another way, this chronology demonstrates a ‘lack of diligent preparation … on the part of the attorney for the Government.’”
In the summer of 2018, the Vermont Drug Task Force began a drug investigation into Michael Pimental, Krystal Whitcomb, Shawn Whitcomb and others.
During the course of the investigation police said they received information that Pimental and Krystal were traveling out-of-state to pick up large quantities of heroin and fentanyl and were bringing those drugs back to the Caledonia County area of Vermont to distribute them.
“Once in Vermont, Shawn Whitcomb and Krystal Whitcomb would distribute those drugs,” wrote prosecutors. “The conspiracy involved significant quantities of heroin and fentanyl and both Pimental and Krystal were reported to have guns.”
As part of this investigation, police conducted five controlled purchases of heroin from Shawn Whitcomb from July through September 2018, and a controlled purchase of heroin and fentanyl from Krystal Whitcomb on October 10, 2018, according to court documents.
On October 14, 2018, police recovered the body of Michael Pimental.
Krystal Whitcomb and Pimental were in a relationship and shared a home at 2394 Duck Pond Road in Waterford.