Assault on minor will head to trial

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BENNINGTON — A man with an extensive criminal history, who is accused of threatening two minors and assaulting one of them in August, will have his case go to trial.

David E. Mears, 39, who is homeless, has denied two felony charges filed against him.

Deputy State's Attorney Alexander Burke said in Bennington criminal court on Monday that the state did make a plea offer to Mears, which will remain open until a jury is drawn.

Defense attorney Frederick Bragdon told Howard.Judge David A. Howard that Mears "will not talk about plea offers... He only demands a fast and speedy trial. I've advised him we do have offers from the state that I'd like to talk to him about."

Mears is accused of threatening two 13-year-olds, as well as strangling one, in Bennington in the early morning hours of Aug. 21.

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.

Mears was ordered held without bail on Sept. 15 after a hearing to review the weight of the evidence. In October, a judge granted $10,000 bail, which Mears posted soon after.

A competency and sanity evaluation found Mears was competent to stand trial, according to court records.

Burke said Bragdon has indicated the defense would retain an expert witness for competency.

Howard said the attorneys will discuss the competency issue on the day that the jury is drawn, which he said would be in January.

Mears has pleaded not guilty to felony aggravated assault and aggravated stalking someone under 16-years-old (two counts), and misdemeanor false information to police and simple assault.

Mears has five other open cases in the same court: Three unlawful trespass and two disorderly conduct, all misdemeanors.

Ed Damon can be reached at edamon@benningtonbanner.com, at @edamon_banner on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 111.

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