Friday April 19, 2013

KEITH WHITCOMB JR.

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- A judge has ordered that a Readsboro man accused of threatening two other men with a gun, after they entered his home and confronted him, continue to be held without bail after a prosecutors said he has a history of irresponsible gun use and does not follow court orders.

Bennington Superior Court Judge T. Cortland Corsones said Christopher M. Crockwell, 32, of Grinka Farm Road, may be a good candidate for home confinement if a suitable residence can be found, but for the time being he will be held. Last week, Crockwell pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and misdemeanor reckless endangerment. State Police said Crockwell called them on April 9 to say Kim Thayer and Craig Thayer had come into his home and there had been a physical altercation after which he displayed a pistol and chambered a round then told the two to leave, which they did.

Police were also contacted by Kim Thayer and Craig Thayer who said they had confronted Crockwell over him allegedly being rough with children staying at the house.

Crockwell was held without bail pending a wait of the evidence hearing which began Wednesday and wrapped up on Thursday.

Deputy State’s Attorney Jennifer Barrett argued Crockwell should be held because of past incidents involving firearms and the fact that Crockwell admitted to police he had been consuming alcohol on April 9 while conditions of his probation forbid him to do so. She said Crockwell’s probation stems from a marijuana possession charge in Massachusetts.

Richard Thayer, Kim Thayer’s son, testified about an incident he said happened roughly a year ago with Crockwell and Melinda Thayer. He, along with the pair and some others, had been out to a bar and come back at around 3 a.m. Richard Thayer said there was an argument between Crockwell and Melinda Thayer and that Crockwell loaded a shotgun. Richard Thayer said he unloaded the shotgun and threw it in a corner.

Danielle Dupre-Wise, who State Police said was a witness to the April 9 incident, testified that about a year ago she was at a poker game where Crockwell arrived intoxicated and got into an argument with someone who said they had a baseball bat in their car. She said Crockwell’s response was that he had five friends in his back pocket -- or words to that effect -- indicating he had a gun. She said things calmed down and Crockwell took the gun out of his pocket and left it on the floor to go outside and smoke a cigarette.

The incident amounted to a home invasion, said Public Defender Frederick Bragdon who represents Crockwell. He said Kim Thayer and Craig Thayer had laid their hands on his client and the struggle was enough for them to go to the floor. He said Crockwell felt threatened when he got up which was why he displayed the gun.

Bragdon said the other incidents, if true, are more negligent than threatening.

Corsones said he was not satisfied that at this time there were sufficient conditions he could impose to keep Crockwell away from firearms and alcohol.

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