NEWPORT — A Lincoln Beach woman convicted Tuesday of attempted murder, unlawful use of a weapon, animal cruelty and menacing testified she acted out of fear due to a history of abuse.
A Lincoln County jury entered deliberations Friday, Oct. 9, in the trial of Brittany Vogeli, 31, who was charged with four counts of attempted murder, two counts each of menacing and unlawful use of a weapon, and one count of animal cruelty. Prosecutors alleged she intended to kill her mother, Cyndi Upton, and her son, and armed herself to do so the night she was arrested after stabbing her mother’s dog.
Vogeli was arrested the evening of Nov. 29, 2019, at Fogarty Creek RV Park, where she and her son had lived in her mother’s trailer for the previous month and a half. Police were called to the scene shortly after 10 p.m. by a neighbor, who reported that Upton had shown up at their door covered in blood and saying that her daughter “went crazy.” Officers arrived and found Vogeli in the trailer with her son. They detained her in the doorway and led her to a patrol vehicle. In body-worn camera footage played during her trial last week, Vogeli can be heard yelling at her mother on the way to the patrol car, telling her “You just wait, you just wait. You just ******* wait … I hope you die. I hope you die. I hope you die you stupid *****.”
Once inside the vehicle, Vogeli told a Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office deputy she did not recall everything that happened in the house or how the dog was injured, repeatedly begging that they not allow her son to leave with her mother. Left alone in the patrol car, Vogeli’s tone again became combative. An in-car camera recorded her swearing at officers outside in Spanish-language epithets and demanding to be let go, saying, “First of all, I didn’t even stab my mother’s dog. And it’s a dog, a ******* dog. It’s not a ******* human. I didn’t break any ******* laws. Give me a ******* human, and I’ll stab it right the **** now.”
Interviewed inside the trailer, her son told investigators he’d seen his mother stab his grandmother’s dog, LaLa, and that she’d threatened to kill him, his grandmother and the other two dogs in the residence. “She said she was going to K-I-L-L me but I don’t think she meant it or anything like that,” the 10-year-old told a deputy. He said she’d told him to “go to sleep or die” as he huddled under a blanket during the incident. He gestured to a dozen knives laid out on the couch, saying, “As you can see, this is all the knives she tried to use.”
Upton testified during the trial Oct. 8 that she had no memory of her daughter threatening to kill her, the boy, all the dogs and herself, which Deputy District Attorney Lanee Danforth pointed out conflicted with her testimony to the grand jury that indicted Vogeli. Upton said they argued earlier in the night at a bar across the street and that Vogeli had returned home ahead of her after being ejected for throwing a drink. Upon arriving home after her, Upton said, she sat on the couch to watch TV with Vogeli and the child, who were on a makeshift bed on the floor.
She testified that Vogeli was staring intensely at her, and she asked her, “What’s up, little girl?,” after which her daughter jumped up enraged, unsheathed a “sword knife” from the shelf and waved it, and then she stabbed Upton’s dog, which was on the couch with her. Upton said she threw the dog toward a back bedroom to get her away from Vogeli, left briefly to ask a neighbor to call police, and then returned to the trailer to apply pressure to her dog’s wound. LaLa survived her injury.
Testifying after her mother Oct. 8, Vogeli said she and her mother were both intoxicated on the night of the incident after drinking since early afternoon. She denied having been kicked out of the bar, saying she‘d accidentally spilled a drink and left to bring her son some food.
She’d first grabbed the knife to protect herself and her son from Upton, she said. She said her mother was standing near the bedroom and “came at (her),” at which time she blacked out, then came to while holding a bleeding dog with no memory of what happened. She’d retrieved all the knives from the kitchen as additional protection, she said, and had just laid them out on the couch when she saw police lights flashing. She said she’d told her son “go to sleep or die” with the intent of getting him to close his eyes so he would not witness the incident. Vogeli testified she had good reason to fear her mother after a long history of abuse, during which Upton had referred to her as “little girl,” as she did the night of the incident.
Upton admitted during her testimony to having assaulted Vogeli on multiple occasions when her daughter was a child and teenager, including once with a towel rod, for which she was arrested and convicted. She said she had been thrice convicted of child abuse against her daughter, and she said Vogeli had witnessed her assault spouses and significant others, assaults for which she was also convicted.
Vogeli’s attorney, Kristina Kayl, told jurors during closing arguments Oct. 9 that her client had ample opportunity to stab her mother and son but had not done so, instead allowing her mother to leave the house, indicating that she had no intention of killing her.
Danforth argued that Vogeli’s words and actions made her intent to kill clear, and it was only the arrival of law enforcement that prevented fatal injuries.
Jurors returned their verdict shortly after noon on Tuesday, convicting Vogeli on the charge of second-degree attempted murder of her mother, as well as the weapon, menacing and animal cruelty counts. They voted 10-2 to acquit on three first-degree attempted murder counts — one for alleged attempted murder of a minor under the age of 14, her son, and two for alleged attempted murder of her mother and her son during the same criminal episode.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Oct. 20 before Judge Sheryl Bachart. Vogeli faces a minimum sentence of 90 months for the attempted murder conviction, with no possibility of early release.