KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
BENNINGTON -- Police said a County Street woman’s hand was injured Saturday when she was shot by a .44 magnum revolver while trying to wrest it from her husband, who she said was threatening suicide.
Scott M. Cornell, 44, was held without bail Monday after pleading not guilty to first degree aggravated domestic assault with a weapon, and a misdemeanor charge of reckless endangerment. Cornell was arrested Saturday, and according to Bennington Police, was released with no bail by Judge David Howard with the condition he appear in Vermont Superior Court on Monday.
Deputy State’s Attorney Robert Plunkett told Judge Nancy Corsones that he did not know what information about the incident was shared between police and Howard, but Cornell possesses a large number of firearms which he apparently keeps loaded, and according to the alleged victim has threatened to harm himself in the past.
Cornell’s attorney, Susan McManus, said that was unreliable hearsay and called Cornell’s father to the stand to testify that his son could live with him and that he would contact police if Cornell violated any of his conditions. She argued that he has strong ties to the community.
Corsones opted to hold Cornell until a hearing can be scheduled to determine what, if any, conditions he can be released on that will ensure court appearances and public safety.
According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Cpl. Andy Hunt, at 7:25 p.m. police responded to a 911 call where they found a woman on County Street sitting a car, crying with her hand wrapped in a towel. Cornell was there and told police he and the woman had been arguing, he had a gun, and the gun went off. He told police they did not want to know why he had a gun.
Police said that inside the house they found blood spattered on the walls and ceiling, and a small piece of flesh by a door. There was a bullet hole in the wall, which had gone all the way through and out, facing Depot Street. Police found a Ruger Redhawk .44 magnum revolver that held six rounds. One had been fired.
The bullet went through the webbing between the woman’s right thumb and forefinger, and she also suffered powder burns, police said. Cornell also had what appeared to be a powder burn.
The woman told police she began arguing with Cornell because of text messages she had received from a woman leading her to believe he was having an affair. She said he pushed her down on a bed and held her there, then she told him she was leaving him. He responded by saying he would kill himself then went into a room where he keeps a number of loaded firearms.
She told police he does this whenever they argue, and has threatened to shoot her as well. This time she attempted to get the gun away from Cornell, and it went off, wounding her. She said she did not think Cornell fired the gun intentionally, but her hand was not near the trigger, and Cornell immediately blamed her for it firing. She told Cornell to drive her to the hospital, and when she indicated she would report him to police, he replied, "I have guns, I’m ready."
According to Hunt, Cornell had a blood-alcohol content of .245 percent. He said he was arguing with his wife over another woman sending him text messages, but he denied cheating. He said he went into a room to drink alcohol and could not remember how he came to have a gun in his hand. It went off as the woman tried to take it from him, but according to Hunt is explanation did not make sense. According to Hunt, Cornell claimed he did not keep loaded guns in the home, yet police found four in the house and two in his vehicle, loaded and with rounds chambered.