$10K bail for man accused of assault on minor

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BENNINGTON — A homeless man with an "extensive" criminal history, who allegedly threatened two minors and assaulted one of them in August, has been granted $10,000 bail.

David E. Mears, 39, was ordered held without bail on Sept. 15 after a hearing to review the weight of the evidence. He is accused of threatening two 13-year-olds, as well as strangling one, in Bennington on Aug. 21.

Mears pleaded not guilty in Vermont Superior Court Bennington Criminal Division on Aug. 21 to felony aggravated assault and aggravated stalking someone under 16-years-old (two counts), and misdemeanor false information to police and simple assault.

Deputy State's Attorney Robert Plunkett, during a bail review hearing on Tuesday, asked the court to impose $25,000 bail, noting the seriousness of the allegations.

"What we have here is a disheveled man following 13-year-olds in the wee hours of the morning 'whispering to himself that he was going to rape them over 20 times,'" Plunkett said, quoting a line from the police affidavit.

Mears' attorney, Frederick Bragdon, asked that Mears be released without bail.

"It's a serious allegation, but we have things to say at trial," Bragdon said.

He said he anticipates depositions being taken Oct. 31 and the case going to a jury draw on Nov. Mears, he said, "hopes to get his own expert for competency."

A juvenile boy told officers on Aug. 21 that at about 1:30 a.m., he was assaulted by a homeless man while he and a girl he knew were walking near Depot Street and Benmont Avenue, according to a court affidavit. The man followed them and at one point, grabbed the boy teen by the throat.

The boy told police he was able to break free and the man took off running, describing him as "short, skinny, with 'rugged up' clothing and short dreadlocks." Officers later found a man who matched that description on Benmont Avenue and ultimately determined he was Mears, who allegedly gave a fake name when first questioned by police. Mears had a blood alcohol content of .192 when officers arrested him, according to the affidavit.

Judge William D. Cohen set bail at $10,000 cash or surety. If posted, Mears would be released on the condition that he come to court and have no contact with either of the juveniles.

Mears has five other open cases in the same court: Three unlawful trespass and two disorderly conduct, all misdemeanors. His criminal history includes two felony convictions, 54 misdemeanor convictions, 20 convictions for violating court orders and seven convictions for assault behavior, according to court documents.

Reach staff writer Edward Damon at 802-447-7567, ext. 111 or @edamon_banner.

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