BENNINGTON — The defendant in the hit-and-run of an elderly woman in the Walmart parking lot on Northside Drive earlier this month pleaded not guilty on Thursday to leaving the scene of a crash with serious injuries and aggravated assault.
Grant G. Bentley, 41, made his pleas from the Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility in Rutland, where he is being held without bail. He appeared via Webex video at the Rutland Superior Courthouse for the presentation of the formal charges.
Bentley is accused of allegedly striking the woman on Jan. 10, as she crossed the parking lot in front of Walmart with her shopping cart.
In a released surveillance video, Bentley strikes the shopping cart with the front end of his white SUV, knocking the woman onto the pavement. He is then seen exiting the vehicle and attempting to lift the woman to her feet. When he can’t, he unceremoniously drops the victim back onto the pavement, where she slams her head into the pavement as she falls. Bentley is last seen getting into the SUV and pulling away, while the woman lies motionless and nearby pedestrians run over to help.
Bentley went on the lam for two weeks as Bennington Police searched for him, releasing a photo of him and the SUV from Walmart surveillance.
On Tuesday, police announced an arrest warrant on social media and released a previous mugshot of Bentley. Within minutes of the release, Bennington Police received multiple tips that Bentley was hiding in Room 20 of the Southgate Motel on Route 7A in Bennington. When they knocked on the door, a female let them in. Bentley was found hiding in the bathroom of the hotel room and, after a brief chat, opened the door and was taken into custody without incident.
It was later reported that Bentley had an outstanding probation warrant out at the time of the Walmart incident, prompting authorities to hold him without bail. Rutland Superior Court Judge David Fenster ordered Bentley to continue to be held without bail until a weight of evidence hearing can be scheduled.
Bentley has four other criminal cases in Bennington that are still unresolved. These involve charges that include burglary, assault, robbery, cocaine possession, violation of conditions of release, and petty larceny for allegedly stealing a Twisted Tea beverage from Stewart’s Shops in Bennington.
Bentley faces up to life imprisonment on the hit-and-run. He is charged as a habitual offender with three or more felony convictions in Vermont. As of press time, the weight of evidence hearing had not yet been scheduled.