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Man convicted in Vt. slaying

BURLINGTON, Vt. -- A man accused of abducting a supermarket employee and beating her to death as she prayed for her life was convicted on federal charges yesterday in the first death penalty case in Vermont in nearly 50 years.

The jury will begin hearing evidence next week in the penalty phase of the case against Donald Fell and will decide whether he should be executed.

Fell, 25, was found guilty in less than two hours on all four counts against him of joining another man in kidnapping Terry King from a Rutland supermarket, driving her car to New York, and beating her to death. The other defendant, Robert Lee, hanged himself in prison in 2001.

The case was tried in federal court because the alleged crimes crossed the state line. Then-Attorney General John Ashcroft rejected a plea deal that would have given Fell life in prison.

Vermont does not have a state death penalty and has not executed a prisoner since 1954.

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