BENNINGTON — A Bennington man avoided a longer sentence Monday after taking a plea deal for robbing a man of his rent money in summer 2021.
Austin Mayhew, 32, of Bennington pleaded guilty on Monday to felony charges of aiding in a burglary and obstruction of justice, but will serve no more than three years after accepting the deal with prosecutors.
Mayhew was charged after breaking into a man’s Gage Street home with an alleged accomplice, Amel Allen, 22, to steal rent money.
On July 1, 2021, a little before noon, the victim woke from a nap to a knocking at his door, according to court documents. The knocking got progressively louder and more aggressive until the man told Mayhew and Allen that they were not welcome in his home. The knocking still escalated.
Mayhew then grabbed a rake from the man’s property and started hitting the storm door in an attempt to break the Plexiglas and enter the residence. While Mayhew was working on the door, Allen tried to enter through multiple windows.
When the man opened the door to “sweep” the couple off the stoop, his dog stuck his head in the doorway to try to get out. Mayhew continued to attempt entry into the house by kicking the door several times — while the dog’s head was in the door. The victim said his dog yelped loudly.
Mayhew initially was charged with animal cruelty, but that charge was dropped in the plea agreement.
The victim then retreated into his home to find a weapon, and Allen darted into the home and took $280 in rent money. He said that, as Allen was leaving, she laughed and said, “This is what we were after.”
While running away, Allen fell into the man’s garden, according to the affidavit. Bennington Police Officer Thalia Wilborn, who responded to the incident, confirmed that greenery and dirt in the garden was disturbed. Wilborn also located marks on the storm door and a window.
While examining the garden, Wilborn found a pink flip-flop and hair tie. Earlier in the day, Wilborn responded to an argument between Mayhew and Allen. The officer said Allen was wearing the same pink flip-flops, and her hair was in a bun. After the incident, a different officer saw Allen with her hair down and only one flip-flop.
A mail carrier called the police in response to the burglary. He said he could hear the man scream, “Get the [expletive] out of my house, leave, get out of here!” The mail carrier also saw Allen waving the money over her head while bragging about the robbery.
In court documents, Allen had a different story to tell: When speaking to an officer, she said that the man shoved her down the stairs and smacked her with her flip-flop. She also said that he ripped her hair out of her head, and that he had “sexually molested” her in the past. Allen’s mother had previously been in a relationship with the man.
While he was in the police cell, Mayhew was allowed to make a phone call and several officers overheard the call. They said he called to tell a woman that he would be going to jail for a long time, and he encouraged the woman to tell the man he helped rob to recant his statement. Mayhew, on this phone call, also claimed the man had a weapon.
This attempt to have the victim’s statement recounted lead to Mayhew’s obstruction of justice charge.
When Mayhew was arraigned, he was given conditions of release, with bail set at $10,000. He was transferred to Southern State Correctional Facility, and he attended his change of plea hearing from the facility.
Allen, of Beaudoin Lane, died in September from an overdose.