Wednesday December 12, 2012

BENNINGTON -- An Arlington man was held without bail Monday after he was charged with allegedly hiting and strangling a woman when she tried to stop him from leaving a house.

Christopher R. Barnhardt, 25, pleaded not guilty in Bennington Superior Court Criminal Division to first degree aggravated domestic assault, and misdemeanor domestic assault. Court records indicated his case would be transferred to the Rutland Superior Court Criminal Division because of a conflict of interest. A bail hearing was also scheduled for a later date.

According to an affidavit by Vermont State Police Trooper Justin Walker, on Dec. 6 at 10:41 p.m. he and another trooper were dispatched to the Valhalla Motel in Arlington where they met a woman who said Barnhardt had assaulted her at their home nearby. Walker wrote that the woman appeared disheveled and had blood on her from cuts to her lip and forehead. Walker wrote that he went with the woman to her home and saw numerous broken bottles and a broken television. He said the woman began to cry at this point and told him that Barnhardt had been drinking alcohol and using cocaine during the evening. She said Barnhardt started to leave in order to get more cocaine and she stood in his way to prevent this.

She told police Barnhardt hit her in the face and grabbed her throat, making it hard to breathe. She said her throat was grabbed like this a few times. She said a guest was with them, who watched the incident and left with Barnhardt. The woman said after they were gone she went to the motel to call police because she could not find her phone.

According to Walker's affidavit, he was not able to locate Barnhardt that evening but wrote in a release that Barnhardt was found the following day and released on conditions to appear in court Monday.

-- Keith Whitcomb Jr.

Man sentenced on reckless driving charges

BENNINGTON -- An Arlington man was given a jail sentence of between one and two years while being pre-approved for furlough after he pleaded guilty in late November to driving recklessly in connection with a domestic incident.

On Nov. 29, Phillip A. Morse Jr., 26, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of vehicle operation -- reckless or gross negligence, and reckless endangerment. He had been being held without bail since Oct. 23 when he pleaded not guilty to those charges as well as felony counts of second-degree aggravated domestic assault, and stalking. The state dismissed the felonies as part of the plea agreement, which also directed Morse to be pre-approved to be released on furlough so he could undergo domestic violence programming.

Overall, however, Morse is facing two to five years in prison should he not complete programming, as his probation on other charges was revoked.

According to Vermont State Police, on Oct. 22 a woman told them she had been with Morse at a gas station in Arlington to pick up a child she shares custody of with Morse. She said Morse wanted to talk to her longer but she had to leave for work. She said he became upset and followed her in his vehicle down East Arlington Road.

She told police she allowed Morse to pass her, but then came upon him stopped in the road. She went to go around and he moved, causing their vehicles to collide. The woman said she contacted Morse's mother and he stopped following her.

A restitution hearing was scheduled at the sentencing hearing to address the cost of damage to the woman's vehicle.

-- Keith Whitcomb Jr.