Thursday March 14, 2013

KEITH WHITCOMB JR.

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- A student who ran away from Bennington School is being accused of threatening to kill a woman who found him standing on her property.

Nathaniel W. Murano, 16, pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault, burglary, and misdemeanor counts of unlawful trespass, and disorderly conduct. He was ordered to be hospitalized and evaluated for mental health and upon his release from a facility he will be under a hold without bail order until he can be returned to Bennington Superior Court Criminal Division. He is not to have contact with the woman he is accused of threatening.

According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Officer Andy Hunt, on Tuesday at 6:32 p.m. he was sent to Monument Circle for a report that a Bennington School student had threatened a woman. When he arrived at the residence he found Murano and three Bennington School Inc. staff members in the driveway. Two of the staff members were restraining Murano and Hunt was told the teen had been trying to break into the residence to go after the woman who lived there.

Hunt said Murano threatened to kill the woman while being arrested and said he would come back at 3 a.m. to do so. He kicked at police and kicked a police cruiser, causing no damage, and was taken to Southwestern Vermont Medical Center for a mental health evaluation.

The woman said she was out walking her dog when she saw a male walk onto her property. She asked if she could help him to which he replied "no," so she then told him he was on private property and needed to leave. When he did not she said she was contacting police. At that point Murano threatened to kill her. She went inside and locked the door then told her husband what had occurred. Her husband, she said, went to the garage and noted a male attempting to enter the home.

The woman told police she was not afraid at the time but now fears Murano will return to the home and attempt to hurt or kill her and her family.

Hunt spoke to Robert Luther, a Bennington School Inc. employee, who said he was following Murano after he left the Manor Dorm, located on Fairview Street. He said he saw Murano go onto the woman's property and heard the exchange between them. Luther had a conversation with the woman's husband in their garage then said he had to go find Murano. When he went to do so he encountered Murano walking back towards the house saying he was "going to kill that (expletives)" and would "choke her and rip her (expletive) head off."

Luther said Murano tried to push past him while saying he wanted to enter the house and be shot. Luther was joined by Scott Goetz, a Bennington School administrator, and together they restrained Murano and held him until police arrived.

Hunt wrote that Murano is in the custody of the Department of Children and Families and is classified as an "unmanageable youth." After being sent to SVMC he was evaluated by United Counseling Service and found not to be in need of care at a psychiatric facility.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr