Man admits assaulting woman
Sentenced to up to 10 years
Quondell Knight, 30, pleaded guilty in Bennington criminal court on Friday to aggravated domestic assault with a prior conviction. Two other felonies, including an attempted second-degree murder charge, were dismissed.
Domestic abuse "tends to deal with control," Judge David A. Howard said during the hearing, telling Knight he must "decide how the issue of control turns into violence for someone you supposedly have feelings for."
"You really need to decide where you're going to be as you go through your 30s," Howard said. "You could be free of it and go on with your life. Or you make mistakes and let the system control you for another 20, 30 years. I hope it's the former."
A plea agreement came after "extensive discovery" that included sworn out-of-court testimony by a medical professional who treated the victim, Deputy State's Attorney Jonathan Ward said.
"The state is confident there's clearly enough evidence to support a domestic assault conviction," he said.
But both sides agreed there was insufficient evidence to establish the intent element of the attempted murder charge.
A Bennington police officer responded to Southwestern Vermont Medical Center on Dec. 16, 2016, where they spoke with a 21-year-old woman who said Knight had assaulted her more than once in the previous month, according to a court affidavit. The officer noted bruises on the woman's arm and red marks around her neck.
The victim said that she and Knight got into an argument at his Pleasant Street apartment and that she told him she was leaving him. According to her account, Knight punched her, stomped on her head, picked her up by the hair and yanked her around the room before throwing her onto the bed and strangling her. The woman said she was convinced she was going to die.
Knight's defense attorney, Brian Marsicovetere, said both sides agreed that Knight "recklessly caused [the victim] to suffer...by holding her down and causing bruising and bodily pain."
The victim, during an interview with an investigator days after the incident, "explained some of the things she was alleging weren't true... but did stand by certain things," Marsicovetere said.
Ward said the case demonstrates Knight's "inability to deal with anger." Ward noted the argument and ensuing assault "started with a disagreement over the thermostat."
"It seems that all of his domestic assault convictions could have easily been avoided if he took a step back and calmed down," he said.
Knight had accepted responsibility for his actions, Marsicovetere said.
"He's focused on taking steps that put him in a better position," he said. Knight is "quite a talented artist," Marsicovetere said, and hopes to put his talents to good use.
Knight declined to speak during the hearing.
Knight has been held without bail since the incident and was on furlough when he was arrested. He was convicted in 2013 of two counts of domestic assault, and one count in 2010. In the new case, he was charged as a habitual offender. The sentencing enhancement can be filed against someone who has been convicted of three or more felonies and allows prosecutors to argue up to life in prison.
Knight was given a two to 10-year sentence with credit for time served. The state dismissed aggravated domestic assault and attempted second-degree murder, and the habitual offender enhancement.
A three-day trial had been slated for this week, but was canceled and no jurors were drawn Tuesday.
Ed Damon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @edamon_banner on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 111.
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