Trial date set for two men accused in Vermont murder-for-hire case

Posted at 5:49 PM, June 16, 2023 and last updated 2:48 PM, July 14, 2023

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Two men facing federal charges connected to the 2018 abduction and killing of a Vermont man are scheduled to go on trial in the fall of 2024, a judge decided Friday.

A Vermont state trooper talks to a man standing in the snow.

FILE – A Vermont state trooper, center, speaks to a homeowner, Jan. 8, 2018, near an area on Peacham Road in Barnet, Vt., where the body of Gregory Davis was found. Jerry Banks, the Colorado man who prosecutors say abducted and killed a Vermont man as part of a murder for hire conspiracy, pleaded guilty Friday, June 9, 2023, in federal court to charges that could land him in prison for life. Banks was charged with murder for hire that led to the January 2018 death of Davis and a charge of kidnapping. He had initially pleaded not guilty. Davis’ body was found by the side of a snowy Vermont back road. (Dana Gray/Caledonian-Record via AP, File)

U.S. District Court Judge Geoffrey Crawford set an Oct. 7, 2024 start date for the trial of Serhat Gumrukcu, of Los Angeles, and Berk Eratay, of Las Vegas. They pleaded not guilty last year to a charge of wire fraud as part of an alleged international murder-for-hire conspiracy that was tied to an oil deal. The two men were previously charged with arranging to have the third defendant, Jerry Banks, kidnap and kill Gregory Davis, 49, of Danville, Vermont.

Banks, of Colorado, who prosecutors say abducted and killed Davis, changed his plea to guilty earlier this month.

Prosecutors say Banks was part of a plot that began when Davis had been threatening to go to the FBI to report he’d been involved in a fraudulent oil deal with Gumrukcu. Davis’ body was found by the side of a snowy Vermont back road.

A fourth person, Aren Lee Ethridge, of Las Vegas, pleaded guilty in July and is awaiting sentencing.