Deputy held on domestic charge

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BENNINGTON -- A Bennington County Sheriff’s Department deputy was ordered held without bail Monday after pleading not guilty to felony domestic assault.

Hearing Thursday

Judge David Howard ordered Wayne Davis Jr., 43, held until a weight of the evidence hearing on Thursday. Davis, of North Branch Street, had pleaded not guilty to one count of first degree aggravated domestic assault and one count of unlawful mischief, a misdemeanor.

Davis is also a member of the Bennington Rural Fire Department and a Bennington town highway employee. Rural Fire Chief Joseph Hayes said Davis is currently a member of the fire department, while Sheriff Chad Schmidt said Davis, a part-time deputy, has been placed on administrative leave without pay. He said the department will conduct an internal review once the criminal case is completed.

According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Officer David Faden, on Sunday he was dispatched to the Best Value Inn on Route 7 for a report of Davis forcing his way into a room there, then leaving.

Police met with Davis in the parking lot of the Park Lawn Cemetery, where he was interviewed by Cpl. Thalia Hudson as other officers went to the hotel. There they met with a woman who said Davis had come into the hotel, yelled at her, then poured soda on her laptop computer before throwing the can at her. She said she blocked the can with her arms, but Davis grabbed her and squeezed her neck.

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She said he was pushed out of the room by a friend of hers, David Harrington, who was with her while she was searching for apartments on the computer. The woman said that once he was out, Davis kicked at the door and knocked on the windows, demanding to be let back in while shouting at her.

The woman said she’s been in a relationship with Davis for a little under two decades, and there has been a history of abuse against her. She claimed Bennington Police had investigated one incident, but she didn’t press charges.

Harrington corroborated the woman’s story, but said he wasn’t sure if the soda can hit her, or where exactly she was grabbed.

Davis told police he’d gone to the hotel after seeing the woman’s vehicle parked there, and said he’d shouted at her before entering the room and pouring the soda on the computer. He said he didn’t touch her or Harrington, and left after the soda incident.

According to the affidavit, the woman applied for and was granted a temporary relief from abuse order. Davis was required to surrender a number of weapons he owns.

At the arraignment, Davis’ attorney Daniel McManus argued that his client has no criminal record and has strong ties to the community, and asked that the court exercise its discretion in releasing him.

Howard said he doesn’t tend to release people prior to weight of the evidence hearings.


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