Thursday May 16, 2013

KEITH WHITCOMB JR.

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- A School Street man was found to be a habitual offender after a jury convicted him Wednesday on two counts of violating a restraining order by knocking on a woman’s door and asking someone he knew to contact her.

Joseph P. Castegnaro, 48, was found guilty of two counts of second degree violating an abuse prevention order after a one-day trial where the jury deliberated for approximately 20 minutes. The charges are both felonies because of a previous aggravated domestic assault conviction Castegnaro has. After the jury trial, Bennington Superior Court Judge Cortland T. Corsones found Castegnaro to be a habitual offender, owing to previous felony convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol and domestic assault.

Castegnaro has been held without bail since September 2012. Corsones ordered a pre-sentencing investigation to be conducted to determine a recommended sentence for Castegnaro which would be considered at a sentencing hearing. The habitual offender enhancement allows the state to argue for up to life in prison if it desires.

Deputy State’s Attorney Jennifer Barrett said a witness testified to seeing Castegnaro knocking on the woman’s door, and a woman testified to him asking her to contact the woman he had been ordered by the court not to have any contact with, including third party contact.

Attorney Lamar Enzor, who represented Castegnaro, said he raised issues about the witness’ ability to accurately identify his client as the one who had knocked on the door. He said he will await the sentencing hearing and argue for a fair outcome.

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