Thursday June 27, 2013

BENNINGTON -- A jury found a man not guilty of charges that he strangled and restrained his girlfriend after the two argued over rent money.

Clark Salmon III, 29, was charged in March with aggravated domestic assault, and second degree unlawful restraint. He had been ordered held without bail. The trial took place Tuesday with the jury deliberating for approximately an hour.

According to Bennington Police, on March 27 a woman told them she had been in an argument with Salmon over his portion of the rent money for the apartment they shared. She said Salmon did not have his portion and they got into an argument. The woman said she slapped Salmon’s face, which prompted him to hit her and grab her about the neck. She said he restricted her breathing to the point where she saw black spots, and her throat was sore for some time afterward. She also accused Salmon of not letting her leave the apartment, but she was able to and was driven away by a friend.

Salmon’s attorney, Christopher Montgomery, in his closing arguments said there was not enough evidence to support the claims being made against his client. He said the state did not charge Salmon with striking the woman or scratching her neck, but had charged him with strangling her, and preventing her from leaving the apartment.

He said the two exchanged a number of text messages after the incident. Montgomery said the woman’s main concern was the money, and while she talked about the marks on her face and neck from being hit, she never mentions being strangled.

Montgomery added that the police took a photograph of the woman’s neck, which only showed a mark to one side. He said a strangling would have marks on both sides.

He further added that the woman was able to call her friend and leave, and that the friend did not testify that Salmon had chased her out the door. This indicated she was not restrained, he said.

Deputy State’s Attorney Jennifer Barrett told the jury that the woman’s friend testified to the woman being upset when she left the house, and in pain. Barrett said the woman’s story has not changed since she spoke to police, and that in the call she made to the friend she was screaming for help. The woman’s injuries were observed by police and, according to Barrett, supported her story of being strangled.

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