The two men facing federal charges related to a murder-for-hire plot that led to the kidnapping and murder of a Vermont man in 2018 will go on trial in September, a federal judge said Thursday.

U.S. District Court Judge Geoffrey Crawford set Sept. 23 as the start date for the trial of Serhat Gumrukcu of Los Angeles and Berk Eratay of Las Vegas. They pleaded not guilty in 2022 to one count of wire fraud as part of an alleged international murder-for-hire conspiracy. The two men were previously charged with arranging for a third defendant, Jerry Banks, to kidnap and kill Gregory Davis, 49, of Danville, Vermont.

3 FACE DRUG CHARGES AS VERMONT POLICE INVESTIGATE MURDER OF WOMAN FOUND IN CONTAINER

Banks, who prosecutors say kidnapped and killed Davis, changed his plea to guilty last year.

Murder for hire in Vermont

Two men charged in connection with the 2018 murder of Vermont resident Gregory Davis will stand trial in September. (Dana Gray/Caledonian-Record via AP, File)

Prosecutors say Banks was part of a plot that began when Davis had been threatening to go to the FBI to report that he had been involved in a fraudulent oil deal with Gumrukcu. On January 6, 2018, a masked man knocked on the door of Davis’ home in Danville. Davis’ wife described the man as having handcuffs, a rifle and a jacket with the US Marshals emblem.

The man told Davis he had an arrest warrant for racketeering in Virginia. They left together. Davis’ handcuffed body was found on the side of a snowy Vermont back road.

Within hours of the discovery of Davis’ body, investigators began focusing on the oil business as a possible reason for his kidnapping and death.

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

By Sam