Arlington man pleads not guilty to attempted murder, assault charge

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BENNINGTON — Less than a week after his release from Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center, the Arlington man wounded after allegedly shooting at Vermont police officers earlier this month pleaded not guilty to felony charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault with a weapon.

Matthew Novick, 40, was arraigned Jan. 17 at Albany Medical Center and arrested by New York State Police on Vermont arrest warrant stemming from the Jan. 7 shooting incident. Novick allegedly fired a semi-automatic rifle at police officers before being wounded.

On Tuesday, Novick was taken from New York to Vermont by Vermont State Police to appear in Bennington's Superior Court Criminal Division shortly before 2 p.m.

Novick was handcuffed and wore a large black brace around his torso. He was silent as his attorney, Christopher Montgomery, entered pleas on his behalf.

Judge William D. Cohen granted State's Attorney Erica Marthage's request for Novick to be held without bail. In her argument, Marthage said Novick is a "danger to the public" and added that he should be "incarcerated until this matter is resolved."

Montgomery argued that Novick has no prior criminal history and has lived in Vermont his entire life and does not represent a danger to the public. Montgomery also requested a weight of evidence hearing, where he expects to call "at least one, possibly two witnesses" to the stand.

The Jan. 7 incident began after a relative of Novick who lives nearby called State Police in the early morning hours to report that Novick was having a "mental health crisis" at his Red Mountain Road home, Maj. Dan Trudeau said during a press conference in Shaftsbury after the shooting.

Two Vermont State Police troopers from the Shaftsbury Barracks arrived at the scene around 4:40 a.m. They reported seeing Novick standing in the doorway of the home, carrying "what appeared to be an AK-47 style semi-automatic rifle."

After calling for backup, police said they heard "a number of gunshots" fired from the area of the home and the driveway, which led police to evacuate nearby homes.

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At around 5:50 a.m., Novick walked down his driveway and fired in the direction of police, Trudeau said. Troopers then took cover and two returned fire, and Novick was struck "multiple times."

The troopers who returned fire were identified as Trooper Shawn Sommers and Trooper Raymond Witkowski.

As of Jan 22, the troopers remain on administrative leave. When they return, they will temporarily be placed on administrative duty status, as VSP policy mandates.

Multiple bullet holes were found in the police cruiser of the first responding troopers, police said. The number of rounds fired by Novick and officers is under investigation.

Novick was taken into custody and given medical assistance before being taken to Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington by ambulance, then flown by helicopter to Albany Medical Center where he underwent surgery.

Novick lives at the Red Mountain Road home with another man who was not home at the time of the incident, police said.

Novick faces a presumptive minimum term of 35 years to life in prison if convicted on the attempted murder charge. A pretrial discovery order has been issued, but it is not clear when he will next appear in court.

He is being held at Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility in Rutland.

Christie Wisniewski can be reached at cwisniewski@benningtonbanner.com and at 802-447-7567, ext. 111.


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