Wednesday February 27, 2013

KEITH WHITCOMB JR.

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- A husband and wife are facing criminal charges with the wife being accused of lying to police on a number of occasions and the husband accused of contacting the wife in defiance of a restraining order.

Sandra C. Porter, 39, of Bennington, pleaded not guilty Monday to a felony count of false swearing for allegedly lying about her injuries on an application for a restraining order against her husband. On another docket, she pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor counts of false information to a police officer, and to calling in a false emergency.

Her husband, Harry E. Porter III, 42, of Union Street, pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor violation of an abuse prevention order, commonly called a restraining order.

Bennington Police Officer Robert Murawski wrote in an affidavit than on Jan. 20 he went to Southwestern Vermont Medical Center to speak with Sandra Porter, who said her husband has grabbed her wrist and told her to do chores. Murawski said he noted no signs of physical injury on her. Her husband denied grabbing her.

Murawski said he later reviewed a restraining order application Sandra Porter had filled out in which she claimed to have had her wrist broken in two places by her husband, and had been abused and threatened by him. Murawski wrote that at no time during his interview with Porter at SVMC did she indicate having a broken wrist.

According to two affidavits by Bennington Police Officer Andy Hunt, on Jan. 24 Judge Cortland Corsones granted a restraining order to Sandra Porter against her husband, which was set to expire Jan. 31.

Hunt wrote that on Jan. 29 at 8:53 p.m. he went to the Autumn Inn to speak with Sandra Porter, who said Harry Porter had tried to call her three times that evening. She showed him her cell phone, which showed one phone call from a restricted number had come in at 8:04 p.m. Sandra Porter told Hunt her husband’s number is displayed as restricted. Hunt told her there was not enough evidence to charge Harry Porter. She then told him her husband had called the night before and she answered it and heard her husband’s voice. Janelle O’Dell was in the room, she said.

Hunt went looking for O’Dell and while out was told Sandra Porter had called 911 to report she felt like harming herself because of an argument she had recently with her husband. The ambulance was called off and Hunt went back to the inn with another officer, who was told by Sandra Porter she had spoken to her husband at 7:55 p.m., which would have been prior to Hunt’s meeting with her. Hunt said Porter admitted she lied to police about having spoken to Harry Porter on Jan. 28 and 29 and said she was unsure about her feelings on harming herself. O’Dell also later told police she had overheard no such conversation on Jan. 28.

Hunt wrote that at 10:15 p.m. on Jan. 29 he had Sandra Porter’s cell phone. It rang and he answered it to learn Harry Porter was the one calling. Porter said his wife had requested he call her and said she had been doing so since the Jan. 24 restraining order was in effect. Hunt told Porter he was to ignore her attempts to contact him as the order applied to him.

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