Wednesday January 30, 2013

KEITH WHITCOMB JR.

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- A Manchester man who police said shot himself in the chest the night before he was scheduled to be arraigned on domestic assault charges pleaded not guilty to those charges, which allege that he broke a woman’s ankle and finger, Monday in Bennington Superior Court Criminal Division.

Donald Ely-Gardner, 27, of 106 Cone Road, Manchester, was held without bail after pleading not guilty to two counts of domestic assault with a prior conviction, and two counts of first degree aggravated domestic assault. A weight of the evidence hearing is scheduled for Feb. 1 where bail and release conditions will be argued by the state and Ely-Gardner’s attorney.

According to an affidavit by Manchester Police Officer Paul McGann, on Dec. 27 he spoke to a woman who said that in June, Ely-Gardner kicked her foot out from under her, causing her to fall and hit her head on the floor. She said she later learned her ankle was broken and required surgery, where she was implanted with a metal plate and nine screws. This caused her to miss nearly two months’ worth of work.

The woman said a more recent incident occurred a week and a half before her meeting with police where Ely-Gardner grabbed her hand and twisted her fingers, breaking one of them.

According to the affidavit, Ely-Gardner was cited to appear in court on Dec. 31 at 8:30 a.m. to answer charges stemming from the incidents the woman described. Manchester Police said in a release that on Dec. 30 in the evening, Ely-Gardner was driven to the Manchester Police station by a friend of his, with a bullet wound in his chest and claiming he was the victim of a drive-by style shooting. Police said Ely-Gardner’s story did not add up and he later admitted to having shot himself.

Police said it is not common practice to file charges on suicide attempts, nor publicize them, however at the time police had concerns for public safety owing to Ely-Gardner’s story.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @kwhitcombjr