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BENNINGTON — Four convicted felons are scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday morning at the Bennington Superior Courthouse in front of Judge Kerry McDonald-Cary for crimes ranging from aggravated domestic assault with a deadly weapon to stalking.

Scott Eric Phillips, 42, of Petersburgh, N.Y., faces more than 15 years behind bars after being convicted of two out of three counts, stemming from a 2019 domestic incident in which he willfully or recklessly caused bodily injury to a family member. He also was charged with threatening that same person by throwing a knife at the victim’s Bennington residence.

According to a police affidavit, after a night of drinking, Phillips grabbed the victim into a chokehold, punched the victim and threw a large kitchen knife into the wall.

Phillips was found guilty of two of the original three charges by a jury at a July 2022 trial in Bennington. He was found not guilty of a separate aggravated domestic assault. His sentencing hearing is at 9 a.m. It is unclear whether Phillips or the victim in the case will make any statements before the sentence is handed down.

Phillips did make a written statement claiming that an argument with the victim became physical. In the statement, he took responsibility for his actions but claimed he never intended to threaten the victim by throwing the knife.

Denzel Lafayette, 25, of Springfield, Mass., was found guilty in July 2022 by a jury on two counts — sexual assault without consent and using a weapon in the commission of a crime. He had initially been charged with two more counts of child pornography and sexual exploitation in a child luring, but prosecutors subsequently dismissed those charges before trial.

Lafayette faces a possible three-year sentence on the sexual assault charge and five more on the weapons charge.

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Lafayette initially was held without bail on the charges but appealed to the Vermont Supreme Court, which affirmed the withheld bail based on the seriousness of the charges against him. That changed when the two most serious charges were dismissed. He was then released on conditions.

Lucille Morse, 78, of Sunderland, was convicted on six counts at a jury trial in June. Two charges — stalking with a deadly weapon and aggravated stalking with a deadly weapon, both felonies — were dismissed after several motions by the defense. The remaining counts, all misdemeanors, including reckless endangerment, carry a maximum sentence of five years behind bars.

According to a police affidavit in the case, Morse stalked and attempted to run over the ex-girlfriend of a family member with a vehicle in 2019. Morse was found guilty in June and will be sentenced Tuesday.

Preston Foster, 60, of Bennington, was convicted of two counts of violating an abuse prevention order, both felonies. He was charged as a habitual offender and faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, with three prior felony convictions on his record.

Police documents show Foster had a previous stalking order in effect, but violated that order by keeping within the set distance limits set by the court and by harassing the victim.

At the same time, he drove along Main Street in Bennington and sat in his vehicle outside the victim’s place of business. Foster has a criminal record in Vermont of violating a different abuse prevention order and domestic assault. He will be sentenced Tuesday, as well.

Lucille Morse tried to harm the ex-girlfriend of a family member. An earlier version of this story was incorrect.


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