Man sentenced for car chase, threats

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BENNINGTON — A local man convicted on charges that he led police on a high-speed car chase and threatened three woman a year ago was given a split-sentence this week that calls for four years in prison.

Timothy S. Harrington, 30, pleaded guilty in October on charges that he fled when police tried to arrest him at a traffic stop, threatened to kill three women, and brandished a knife when officers found him hiding in a closet. A Vermont Superior Court judge on Thursday imposed a split sentence, with four years to serve in prison and the balance of two-to-eleven years on probation.

Harrington spoke for about 10 minutes during the sentencing hearing in Bennington criminal court. He told Judge David A. Howard that he has been employed while incarcerated. Harrington said a split sentence with probation would let him to participate in community programs.

"I don't want to keep making the same mistakes," Harrington said. "I don't want my children to learn from me and end up where I've been. I want my children to live a life they can be grateful for, that I can be grateful for."

A Bennington police officer tried to pull over a truck on County Street one night last October because the driver didn't use a turn signal, according to a court affidavit. He learned Harrington's license had been suspended for multiple violations and ordered him to pull into a parking lot. Harrington sped away, reaching 55 miles per hour on Benmont Avenue, where the posted limit is 30, and on Bank Street he was driving 65 in a 25 mph zone. Harrington headed towards New York State and hit a deer at what an officer estimated was 90 mph.

The officer ended the pursuit, but later heard from a woman who said Harrington had contacted her in violation of a court abuse-prevention order. She said Harrington sent her text messages and threatened to kill her, two other women and also himself.

Harrington was charged as a habitual offender, a sentencing enhancement that can be filed against a defendant with three or more prior felony convictions.

A letter from the woman was read in court by a victim's advocate. The woman said Harrington has caused her fear and that he must learn there are consequences for his actions.

Deputy State's Attorney Robert Plunkett said that, when Bennington officers found Harrington in the closet of a child's bedroom, he held a fixed blade knife he didn't have a sheath for. "He was told to put the knife down, but he did not," he said. Harrington was pepper sprayed and officers drew guns, but an officer was able to disarm Harrington.

Plunkett asked that Harrington be sentenced to 20 years to 20 years and one day in prison. Plunkett called him a "member of the Bennington community that is a significant violent offender," referring to his criminal history. The car chase and the fear Harrington inflicted on a woman he knew reflected a pattern of violence, Plunkett said.

Frederick Bragdon, Harrington's defense attorney, asked for a 15-year split sentence with 13 months to serve, the time he's already served since his arrest. Bragdon took issue with the state's request of 20-years, noting the only violence in Harrington's criminal record are three misdemeanor domestic violence convictions.

Harrington pleaded guilty last month to felony violating an abuse prevention order—second offense, driving to eluding police, impeding a public officer, and being a felon in possession of a weapon while committing a crime.

On the attempting to elude and impeding with a weapon charges, Harrington was given concurrent six-to-fifteen year sentences, with four years to serve in prison.

On the two abuse order violations, and the impeding charge, he received concurrent three-to-four year sentences to serve.

Howard said Harrington will have between two and 11 years of a suspended sentence over his head under probation conditions. Those include that Harrington submit to GPS monitoring or a curfew at a probation officer's request.

Under a plea agreement, the state dismissed a felony impeding charge and misdemeanor counts of reckless driving, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest and driving at excessive speeds.

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


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