KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
BENNINGTON -- A McCall Street man was held without bail Wednesday, having pleaded not guilty the day before to accusations he held a loaded gun to his girlfriend’s head and threatened to kill her, himself, and her father.
Christopher Violette, 23, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to aggravated domestic assault with a weapon and first degree unlawful restraint, a felony. He was held without bail then, and after a bail hearing Wednesday Judge Cortland Corsones ordered him to continue to be held, saying he did not feel there were sufficient conditions of release that would ensure the safety of the complaining witness.
According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Cpl. Christopher Lauzon, on Sunday at 9:41 a.m. he was sent to Putnam Street to talk to a woman about an incident that happened the night before involving Violette and a gun.
The woman said she had gone to visit her brother, and during the visit Violette had tried to call her numerous times. She said she returned home and found the door locked, then Violette arrived, seemingly intoxicated. She said he told her to leave but then pulled her inside the apartment where he began to throw things and punch the walls.
She said that between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. Violette took a .45 caliber pistol he owns, loaded it, turned off the safety switch, pointed it at her head and told her he would kill her, himself and her father.
She said Violette then said he was going to the store for beer and that was when she left to call police.
The woman took the witness stand Wednesday and said Violette has acted similarly before, throwing things, being loud and verbally abusive, and making death threats.
According to Lauzon, no pistol was found, and the woman said a rifle also appeared to be missing from the apartment Violette lives in with her and a number of children. Lauzon said Violette was arrested and initially agreed to speak to police but became agitated and refused to talk further.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Officer Joshua Stemp said he spoke with Violette and was told Violette owned three firearms, a .45 caliber pistol, a .22 caliber rifle, and a .308 caliber rifle. He said Violette told him he had no recollection of the events the night before but did admit to throwing things.
Stemp said Violette indicated he was upset over the woman having contact with her father, who Violette does not like. Stemp added that Violette asked him for a ride to where the woman’s brother lives so he could "beat him up."
Violette’s attorney, Frederick Bragdon, suggested to the court his client be placed under a 24-hour curfew at his father’s home, but with the exception that he could be out of the home in the company of his father for work purposes.
Corsones said Violette’s father testified Tuesday as part of the weight of the evidence hearing and made statements indicating he thought the woman was exaggerating and police were taking the matter too seriously. Corsones said he was not satisfied the father would notify police should Violette violate his conditions.